German Homeschool Family Can Stay

On March 4, Homeland Security suddenly in effect reversed course. After spending years contesting the asylum that had been granted by an immigration judge to a German Homeschooling family in 2010, DHS decided to let that family stay in the U.S. after winning a legal victory that would have enabled them to deport the family.

If Uwe and Hannelore Romeike and their six children were deported to Germany, the German government had already fined them and would break up the family had they continued to homeschool.  The Obama administration might have been worried about the adverse publicity that would have resulted. More than 125,000 people signed the online White House petition that I told you about in my April 2013 blog posting about this case.

The Romeike family began homeschooling in 2006 in Germany for religious reasons. Homeschooling is against the law in Germany and they had already been fined and were being threatened with losing custody of their children. So they fled to the U.S. where, on January 24, 2010, they were granted asylum by an immigration judge.

The Department of Homeland Security appealed the immigration judge's decision to the Board of Immigration. Michael Farris, founder of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, defended them through every stage of the legal process.

On May 4, 2012, the Board or Immigration accepted Homeland Security’s argument that since German law prevented everyone from homeschooling, the Romeike family did not have a legitimate case that they were being persecuted. 

On May 14, 2013, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Board of Immigration’s decision because “the German authorities have not singled out the Romeikes in particular or homeschoolers in general for prosecution.”

Then on March 3, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up the case, ending the appeals process.  The very next day, Homeland Security unilaterally reversed course and granted the family “indefinite deferred status” which means that the family can stay permanently so long as they don’t break the law.

The decision only affects the Romeike family. It does not grant asylum to other homeschoolers who are facing prosecution abroad for homeschooling their children.

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 are coauthors of the forthcoming book Balanced Trade, to be published by Lexington Books.