Image from AP/Pioneer Press
GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - At this point, what we have is a very detailed Associated Press investigation, but what happens next to Michael Karkoc will be up to federal authorities in both the United States and in Europe.
We know that prosecutors in Poland and Germany are investigating.
The United States Department of Justice says it can't confirm or deny an investigation exists.
And ultimately, if Karkoc is sent back to Europe to answer to any criminal charges could depend on what happens here.
After the war, Karkoc allegedly lied to immigration officials to get into the U.S.
If someone immigrates to this country and if a court later finds the person gained status as a permanent resident or citizen through fraud or misrepresentation -- lies -- that status can be revoked and the person deported.
KARE 11 spoke with Twin Cities Immigration Attorney Vincent Martin.
"The first thing they will have to do is prove or establish or meet the government burden that he is not eligible for the status he holds, whether that's U.S. citizenship or permanent residence," Martin said. "So they will have to go through that process before the immigration service can act against him. From the U.S. government's standpoint, we as a people and as a nation hold U.S. citizenship so sacredly that something that would result in falsely acquiring U.S. citizenship is a very serious, even crime under the U.S. laws."
And that's because Karkoc has due process rights like anyone else.
There would be an investigation. The Department of Justice could bring an immigration action against Karkoc in federal court and the action would work its way through the system.
In the end, if a judge says he defrauded the government when he immigrated here, Karkoc could be deported.
Interestingly, even today the U.S. permanent residency application form requires a person to disclose whether you were involved with the Nazi government between 1933 and 1945.
Do we know his immigration status?
We don't. -- He is likely to at least be a permanent resident after all this time. It's hard to function for that long normally and not be found out. He could even be a citizen. We don't know his immigration status because that is protected information under federal regulations.
He's 94 - does that matter?
No, not in immigration cases. -- The courts have said U.S. citizenship especially, is very precious -- even sacred to some. In one case KARE looked at, the court deported a man who had been here for 50 years, saying you enjoyed the benefits of U.S. citizenship for all of those years, but you were not entitled to them.
How would this work?
In cases like this, the government typically deports for immigration violations because it's generally quicker and more efficient than extradition -- Extradition is used to bring someone to another jurisdiction to answer to criminal charges, and of course no criminal charges have been filed in this case. Proving any crimes won't be easy. Sixty years have passed and most witnesses are gone. In any case, the U.S. has used lies in immigration papers to deport dozens of suspected Nazi war criminals.
Will the DOJ Act?
The Department of Justice won't confirm if it's investigating Karkoc -- In a statement KARE received from the DOJ, a spokesperson stated that as a general matter the Department of Justice continues to pursue all credible allegations of participation in World War II Nazi crimes by U.S. citizens and residents.
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