(Photo: Home School Legal Defense Association)
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit heard arguments Tuesday in a case, Romeike vs. Holder, that could grant or revoke asylum for the Romeike homeschooling family. If the Romeikes lose, they could be deported back to Germany, where the state threatened to take their children away from them if they did not send them to public school.
Though the Romeikes – Uwe (the father), Hannelore (the mother) and their six children – were granted asylum in 2010, the federal government is trying to revoke that asylum arguing, in part, that parents do not have a fundamental right to choose the type of education their children receive.
The Romeikes are defended by the Home School Legal Defense Association, which also helped them initially move to the United States and obtain asylum.
"The oral arguments are over. Tough questions were asked on both sides, and it's hard to predict the outcome, but, I argued before the California Circuit Court and was convinced I lost, but ended up winning. God can intervene," tweeted Michael Farris, chairman and co-founder of the HSLDA, shortly after the hearing ended.
The Romeikes decided to homeschool their children because they believed that the public schools in Germany were teaching values in opposition to their Christian beliefs. They were forced to pay fines and their children were forcibly removed from their home and taken to the public school.
After they were granted political asylum in a Tennessee district court, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement appealed the decision in 2012. The Board of Immigration Appeals agreed with the government. From there, the case was appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. The U.S. Justice Department is defending the board's ruling.
A White House petition begun by HSLDA asks the Obama administration to stop any deportation effort by granting the Romeikes full and permanent legal status. The petition has received over 120,000 signatures. The White House has agreed to provide an official response to any petition that receives over 100,000 signatures.