German Homeschoolers Appeal Decision on Asylum in US Court

A German couple will have its day in court once more as it appeals a decision barring them from seeking asylum in the United States in order to homeschool their children.

Uwe and Hannelore Romeike, a devout Christian couple with five school-aged children, appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which decided last week to have oral arguments take place in April.

The Romeikes, who came to the United States in 2008, are being represented by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

According to the laws of the Federal Republic of Germany, children must attend an institutional school, be it religious or secular. Only certain exemptions like health issues are given for children.

In 2006, the Romeikes took three of their children out of the German school system under the belief that the educational institutions were promoting anti-Christian values. They decided to leave the country in November 2007 when they faced the possibility not only of fines or prison time but of losing custody of their children due to their decision to homeschool.

In 2008, the family moved to Morristown, Tenn., where they sought official asylum status. According to court documents, the Romeikes did not detail any specific anti-Christian content of the schools in Germany, neither did they specify what Christian denomination they belonged to.

In 2010, U.S. Immigration Judge Lawrence Burman granted the family asylum. However, Burman would be overruled by the Board of Immigration Appeals.

According to a brief by the U.S. Justice Department filed in favor of the board's decision, the Romeike family cannot be granted asylum because there was no inherent persecution in Germany's school attendance law.

"The Board found that Germany had the authority to require school attendance and that the law itself was one of general application," reads the brief. "[T]he purpose of the law is to promote tolerance and pluralism … In addition, the Board found that the law did not disproportionately burden any one particular religious minority."

Michael Farris, founder and chairman of the HSLDA, said in a statement that he found the DOJ's reasoning to be troubling news for proponents of homeschooling both here and abroad.

"When the United States government says that homeschooling is a mutable choice – they are saying that it is a characteristic that a government can legitimately coerce you to change," said Farris.

"Our own government is attempting to send German homeschoolers back to that land to face criminal prosecutions with fines, jail sentences, and removal of custody of children."

The Home School Legal Defense Association did not return comment to The Christian Post by press time.

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