The Bible directs us to "look well to the ways of [your] household." (Prov. 31:27) and, for some families that means schooling them at home. But for one family from Germany, that choice could mean a whole lot more.
Uwe and Hannelore Romeike, of Germany, are Evangelical Christians who made the decision to home school their children to combat bullying and humanistic ideas with which they disagreed. The choice would go unnoticed in the United States, but in Germany, home schooling is illegal.
Because they were subject to criminal prosecution and thousands of dollars of fines, the Romeikes left German in 2008 to seek asylum in America. They settled in Tennessee where they were granted that asylum by immigration Judge Lawrence O. Burnam. Their protection was short lived however, when the Board of Immigration Appeals overturned the grant in 2010.
A three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit heard the Romeikes' appeal on April 23 in Cincinnati, and on May 14, issued their unanimous ruling. The family's request for asylum was denied.
In writing the decision for the three-judge panel, U.S. Judge Jeffrey Sutton stated that, "The German authorities have not singled out the Romeikes in particular or homeschoolers in general for persecution." The judges felt that, while the Romeikes may have felt persecuted, the US was not obligated to grant asylum to anyone because the laws of another country differed from our own laws. In this case, that would mean the law against homeschooling in Germany versus the allowance for homeschooling in America.
The Home School Legal Defense Association is providing legal representation for the family and the next step is a request for an en banc hearing where all fifteen judges, who sit on the Sixth Circuit, would hear the case. The odds of overturning the denial are very low. The Romiekes have promised that, if necessary, they would take their case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
So let me plead the case for asylum.
The answer, in a word, is custody. It is beyond the point of reference, here in the United States, to think that a mother and a father could lose custody of their children if they made the decision to home school their children. Yet, that is a very real and probably outcome for the Romeikes if they are forced to return to Germany.
Opposition to home schooling has been a part of German law since the day of Adolf Hitler. In the arrogant opinion of the state, Germany feels that parents cannot and must not educate their children lest the worldview of the student not fall in line with the government's values. Do the rights of the state supersede the rights of parents?
Our current immigration laws, which call for deportation when an illegal immigrant commits a crime, are not enforced. The pending legislation on immigration reform in Washington calls for the protection for same-sex couples who enter illegally – but we can't protect a family who may lose their children if they continuing home schooling?
I support the Romeikes and their belief that there's "no place like home."