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Supreme Court Refuses to Hear an Appeal for Trifa to Retain His American Citizenship

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The Supreme Court refused today to hear a new appeal for retention of citizenship by Archbishop Valerian Trifa of Grass Lake, Mich., who has been charged with concealing his leadership role in the fascist Rumanian Iron Guard when he applied for U.S. citizenship in 1957. The Iron Guard has been blamed for mass murders of Jews and Masons in Bucharest during World War II. The court issued the ruling with no comment.

The effect of the Supreme Court ruling is to uphold a federal circuit court ruling that Trifa’s action in 1980 of voluntarily renouncing his citizenship in 1980 stands. The Immigration and Naturalization Service is now expected to proceed with its repeatedly-delayed plans to start deportation proceedings against the primate of the Rumanian Orthodox Episcopate of America.

Trifa has been fighting to remain in the United States since 1975, when the Justice Department began court action to strip him of his citizenship and deport him. After voluntarily renouncing his citizenship in 1980 and agreeing not to appeal his decision, Trifa nevertheless filed an appeal. The Justice Department called the appeal “frivolous” and the federal Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati rejected the appeal in November, 1981.

Now 67, Trifa is accused specifically of leading a January, 1941 pogrom in which hundreds of Rumanian Jews were murdered. He was tried in absentia by a Rumanian military tribunal in June, 1941 and sentenced to life at hard labor. He could face a trial for war crimes if he is deported to his native Rumania.

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