Homeland Security Prosecutes German Homeschool Family
In November 2008, Uwe and Hannelore Romeike sold their grand piano (Uwe is a piano teacher) and fled to the United States with their five children. In Germany they were paying fines and being threatened with having their children taken away from them. The facts of the case are not in dispute:
[Uwe and Hannalore] began homeschooling their children in September 2006 primarily for religious reasons. Their decision was in knowing violation of the compulsory school attendance law [of Germany]. Several times in the following months, the applicants were warned verbally and in writing that they were in violation of the compulsory school attendance law. They were fined. Police forcibly escorted the children to school one day. The adult applicants were warned that they could lose custody of their children in they continued to refuse to send their children to school. Legal proceedings resulted in the adult applicants being found guilty of violating the compulsory school attendance law. By the time the applicants left Germany, their fines had risen to approximately 7,000 Euros.
After fleeing to the United States, they requested asylum, which was granted to them by an immigration judge on January 24, 2010. According to The Christian Post:
In his ruling, Judge Lawrence O. Burman acknowledged that not every country can be expected to follow the United States' Constitution. But in the case of the Romeikes, formerly of Bissingen, Germany, Burman said the rights that were being violated were "basic human rights that no country has a right to violate."
"Homeschoolers are a particular social group that the German government is trying to suppress," the judge stated in his decision, according to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), which represented the family in their case.
Though Germany is a democratic country and a U.S. ally, Burman noted Tuesday that its policy against homeschoolers is "repellent to everything we believe as Americans."
The Department of Homeland Security appealed the immigration judge's decision to the Board of Immigration, and on May 4, 2012, the Board or Immigration accepted their argument that since German law prevented everyone from homeschooling, the Romeike family did not have a legitimate case that they were being persecuted. Specifically, the Board of Immigration held:
The German government has the authority to require school attendance and enforce that requirement with reasonable penalties... The compulsory school attendance law at issue in this case is a law of general application. As such, its enforcement and any prosecution under it are not persecution unless the law is selectively enforced or one is punished more severely on account of a protected ground...
The family continues to be defended by the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) which has appealed the Board of Immigration's decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. The first hearing of that appeal will be held on Tuesday (April 23).
To track the case, you can go to its page on the HSLDA's website. There you will find a link to a White House petition that you can sign. Glenn Beck interviewed the family on TheBlaze TV. Watch Part 2, if you want to meet them.
The Department of Homeland Security's priorities are definitely askew. When it comes to Muslim terrorists, it can't seem to find the resources needed to track their activities. Despite a tip from Russian intelligence and an FBI interview just 2 years ago, it apparently lost track of the Boston marathon bombers. However, when it comes to peaceful Christian homeschoolers from Germany, it is able to find the resources needed to prosecute them in order to deport them from the United States.
The author is executive director of Pennsylvania Homeschoolers Accreditation Agency, one of the homeschool organizations recognized by the PA Department of Education to give diplomas to graduates of private homeschooling. He and his father and son maintain a blog at www.idealtaxes.com and co-authored the 2008 book Trading Away Our Future, published by Ideal Taxes Association.