German Christians

Romeike Family Asylum: New Brief Filed In US Supreme Court Case

The Romeike family deportation case is awaiting a hearing in the US Supreme Court. A friend-of-the-court brief was recently filed by the Alliance Defending Freedom group. The organization is a support group for German homeschooling families. Attorneys with the Alliance Defending Freedom office in Vienna, Austria drafted the legal document in support of the Romeike family’s request for a review of the deportation order issued by Eric Holder’s Department of Justice.

The Romeike family has been waiting a ruling from the US Supreme Court in their deportation case. The high court recently ordered Attorney General Eric Holder to issue a response to the Home School Legal Defense Association’s (HSLDA) petition filed on behalf of the German family. Uwe and Hannelore Romeike emigrated to America so they could educate their children as the evangelical Christian family saw fit.

The immigration process was moving along smoothly for the Romeike family until the Department of Justice became involved in their case and overruled a lower court decision in the case. An appeals court sided with Obama administration officials and ruled that the education of children is not a fundamental right.

If the Christian family is forced to return to Germany, they will face not only possible jail time and steep fines, but the potential loss of custody of their children. In their homeland, it has been illegal to homeschool children since Adolf Hitler issued the mandate during World War II.

Uwe Romeike had this to say about the integral role the homeschooling association has played during the deportation battle:

“We are extremely grateful for the work of HSLDA in support of our family. We hope that the Supreme Court will hear our appeal and that we may be able to stay here. America is a land of freedom and we cannot go back to Germany where our children will be taken from us just because we homeschool.”

An immigration judge gave the Romeike family asylum on human rights grounds in 2010. The Department of Justice appealed the court ruling. The homeschooling family then embarked on a long and emotional battle which ultimately led to the US Supreme Court. In July, the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently denied the Romeike family’s request for a new hearing on the asylum matter. Home School Legal Defense Association Director James Mason views the Supreme Court’s order for a response from the Justice Department as a “hopeful sign.”

Mason had this to say about the evolving status of the Romeike family’s immigration case:

“The government initially waived its right to respond, apparently thinking that Romeike v. Holder wasn’t worthy of the Court’s consideration. Clearly, someone in the Supreme Court disagrees. While the odds of the Court taking any case are very low, this has increased the chances—but it is impossible to predict whether the court will ultimately accept the case.”

The high court had scheduled a hearing for the Romeike deportation case in November, but the date was rescheduled to allow time for Eric Holder’s Justice Department to respond to the HSLDA petition. Romeike v. Holder gives the US Supreme Court the chance to address “important religious freedom and human rights issues,” according to Home School Legal Defense Association Chairman Michael Farris. The German family has been living in America since 2008. They fled their native country because they reportedly faced thousands of dollars in fines, among other punishments, simply because they chose to educate their children at home.

The HSLDA posted a petition on the White House We the People website in an attempt to get federal government officials to grant legal permanent legal status to the Romeike family.

Although the Obama administration declined to comment on the specifics of the homeschool deportation case, the following response was posted:

“To the extent that these petitions request a particular law enforcement or adjudicatory action, or address a matter before the courts, we cannot issue a comment. But while we can’t comment on this particular issue, we know that homeschooling is a popular option for many parents pursuing high academic standards for their children. Homeschooling can provide young people with the resources and attention they need to succeed academically, and we understand why their parents value this freedom.”

HSLDA Director for International Affairs Michael Donnelly feels that threats of legal action and a loss of custody for homeschooling parents in Germany represent a violation of international treaties. “Those treaties and fundamental international human rights standards recognize the role of parents in selecting the kind of education their children should receive,” Donnelly said.

Republican Congressman Randy Hultgren is leading the charge to pressure the Justice Department to end deportation proceedings against the Romeike family. Hultgren and more approximately 30 other members of Congress signed a letter to the US Attorney General calling for a halt to the ongoing immigration case against the German family. “One of the most treasured privileges of parents living in the United States is the freedom to choose the means to best educate their children. For many families, including my own, that choice is homeschooling,” Hultgren said.

Maine Republican Congressional candidate Blaine Richardson stated in a release that he was “thrilled” to learn that the US Supreme Court is holding President Obama and his administration accountable for the deportation case that involves religious freedom and educational rights of parents. “I stand shoulder to shoulder with all those who would wish to practice their religion in peace and who wish to educate their children according to their conscience without the interference of government,” Richardson said.

Eric Holder’s Justice Department previously released this statement in reference to the Romeike deportation case:

“Teaching tolerance to children of all backgrounds helps to develop the ability to interact as a fully functioning citizen in Germany. It is scarcely feasible, with those stated goals in mind, to tease from the opinion, a persecutory motive on the part of those who enforce the law.”

The fight for religious freedom and the right to homeschool their children began for the Romeike family in 2006, before they left Germany. Uwe and Hannelore removed their brood from public school and were then fined by their government for doing so. After two years of threats of legal action, the Christian family fled to America.

Do you think the Romeike family should be deported or allowed to remain in the United States?

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