Holtzman Amendment: A Commitment to Removal of Nazi Perpetrators

April 4, 2013 – Media Mention
New York Law Journal

Elizabeth Holtzman served as Congresswoman from New York's 16th District from 1973-1981 and was Chair of the Immigration Subcommittee from 1978-1981. She was the first member of Congress to expose the presence of Nazi war criminals living in the United States and the government's inaction in their presence, and led the fight to bring them to justice. She wrote the law, known as the Holtzman Amendment, authorizing their deportation from the U.S. She also established the Office of Special Investigations in the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice to investigate and bring legal action to denaturalize or deport them.  A recent article in the New York Law Journal explored the "ongoing importance and continuing vitality of the Holtzman Amendment." The statute holds that any alien who "ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in the [Nazi] persecution of any person because of race, religion, national origin, or political opinion" is inadmissible into, and deportable from, the U.S. The article describes how the Holtzman Amendment "filled a gap in the permanent immigration law by adding this express bar against those who perpetrated (or assisted in perpetrating) Nazi crimes, thus providing the government with independent authority to prevent their entry and to secure the removal of those already here." The author adds that the "HA's enactment stands as one of the high points in the evolution of society's recognition of the importance of pursuing legal redress against Nazi criminals living in this country."