In a stunning turnaround, the US Department of Homeland Security has given indefinite deferred action status to the Romeike family. This announcement comes less than 24 hours after the Supreme Court declined to hear the Romeike’s case on Monday, sparking “an immediate and unprecedented reaction” from the American people.
When the Romeike’s woke up Tuesday morning, it was with the dark certainty hanging over them of returning to their homeland of Germany. For no other crime but that of homeschooling their children, Uwe and Hannelore Romeike faced persecution, possible jail time, and removal of their children from their home, again, when they reached the borders of Germany.
Just a few hours later, they received the most unexpected and welcome news – the Romeike’s can stay!
HSLDA, the Home School Legal Defense Association, has been involved with fighting for the Romeike family’s freedom since 2006, when they were in Germany and being threatened with huge fines, loss of their home, and more. In 2008, the Romeike’s came to the United States, settling in Tennessee, in order to freely homeschool their children. Uwe Romeike insisted that their faith compelled them to take their children out of the state-run German schools.
German school laws requiring all children, including the Romeike children, to attend a state-recognized school is a holdover from Hitler’s Nazi days, and a spokesman for the German embassy says that families are free to homeschool any time they want, after state-school hours. According to former homeschooling mom Michaelle McGinnis, “That’s not homeschooling! That’s called helping with homework. It’s called being a parent.” Another homeschooling parent said that the policy is tyranny.
A number of German families do homeschool their children, but at the time the Romeike’s made that decision, unbeknownst to them, authorities had begun cracking down on the practice. They were terrified when the police came banging on their door one morning and hauled the three oldest Romeike children off to school in a police van. With crying children and intimidation by police, and the threat of more to come, the decision was made shortly thereafter to flee to the United States and seek asylum in the land of the free and home of the brave.
The family has been on a roller coaster ride ever since, with some rulings that they can stay, overturned by another ruling that they must leave, decisions deferred, and rulings appealed. The Obama administration came out squarely against the German family, arguing that there is no fundamental right to homeschool.
The possibility of the Supreme Court hearing the case was the last legal hope of the supporters of the Romeike family, and it was dashed to the ground Monday like so much pottery at Bilbo Baggins’ hobbit hole when the dwarves came to visit. The story of the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case on Monday went viral on Fox, with over a million page views in just 24 hours. Many people who have been watching the Romeike’s case were upset, prompting discussions on the implications for homeschooling and religious liberty for Americans.
The Tuesday turnaround was most welcome, and HSLDA and the Romeike’s are celebrating the decision to let them stay in America. In a statement, Uwe Romeike expresses his deep gratitude:
Our entire family is deeply grateful for all the support of our friends and fellow homeschoolers and especially HSLDA. I thank God for his hand of blessing and protection over our family. We thank the American government for allowing us to stay here and to peacefully homeschool our children—it’s all we ever wanted.
For the millions who have been following the Romeike family story, this is indeed a happy ending.