(Photo: AP / Wade Payne)
A White House petition begun by the Homeschool Legal Defense Association seeks permanent legal status for the Romeikes, a German homeschooling family that came to the United States seeking asylum. They feared that their children would be taken from them because homeschooling is illegal in Germany.
The Romeikes – Uwe, Hannelore and their six children – were granted asylum in 2010, but the U.S. Justice Department is now trying to deport them, claiming that they should not have asylum because homeschooling is not a fundamental right.
"We were very surprised," Uwe Romeike, the father, said Saturday on Fox News' "Huckabee," "hearing that now it seems, not even in America, to be a fundamental right for parents to educate, or to decide on the education of their own children. We couldn't believe what we were hearing."
The White House will respond to every petition that receives at least 100,000 signatures. At the time of this publication, the petition had over 73,000 signatures, or about 27,000 shy of the number needed by April 18 to elicit a response from the White House.
Hannelore Romeike explained that they first began homeschooling because they thought their children would be harmed by other classmates and, when they looked in the public school textbooks, they found that they "teach against the values we think the Bible wants us to teach them."
Uwe Romeike said they sought asylum in the United States because they feared that they would lose custody of their children because they refused to send them to the public school.
The White House petition is important, Uwe Romeike believes, because it an serve to demonstrate support for the notion that parents, not the state, should have the right to decide what is the best education for their children.
"It's all about freedom for parents to decide their children's education," he said.