A former Nazi who has lived for decades in western Pennsylvania is still fighting the government’s effort to deport him, saying that his service as a death-camp guard was not voluntary and that a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision should allow him to stay.
The lawyer for retired steelworker Anton Geiser, 87, of Sharon, Pa., will
argue their case Dec. 6 before the Board of Immigration Appeals in Fairfax, Va., according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
It’s the latest development in a long legal battle over Geiser, a naturalized American citizen who acknowledges serving as an armed guard at three Nazi death camps. He denies harming any prisoners.
A federal judge moved in 2004 to revoke Geiser’s citizenship based on his Nazi past, a ruling upheld by an appeals court. Two years ago, a federal immigration judge ordered that Geiser be deported to Austria, or any other country that will accept him.
But Geiser’s attorney, Adrian Roe, is now challenging that order based on a 2009 Supreme Court decision.
That ruling ordered the federal government to clarify asylum laws for people whose participation in persecution may have been involuntary.
The case involved an Eritrean man who said he was forced during a war with Ethiopia to become a guard at a camp where prisoners were mistreated.
His application for asylum in the U.S. was initially rejected, but the Supreme Court directed the Board of Immigration Appeals to
“Whatever [legal] standard applies to all other people should apply to Mr. Geiser,” Roe said.
However, there has been no indication of a resolution in the African immigrant’s claim. And Bryan Lonegan, an attorney who has studied the Eritrean case, told the Post-Gazette that it might not help Geiser anyway.
“The government’s argument is going to be, Nazis are different,” said Lonegan, also a former clinical professor of immigration and human rights at Seton Hall University. “We still find the Holocaust to be the most abhorrent part of world history, and that’s hard to overcome. But are child Nazis different?”
Geiser has said his role was to watch over and escort Nazi prisoners, and he maintains his service was not voluntary. He was drafted into the German army at age 17.
Geiser came to the U.S. in 1956 and became a citizen six years later. A longtime resident of the Sharon, he has five children and “wants to stay where his family is,” Roe said.
Geiser is currently hospitalized to recover from multiple leg fractures sustained in a fall down stairs.