Earlier this month, it was brought to light that a German family who immigrated to the U.S. seeking political asylum may soon be deported by the Department of Homeland Security — and it all involves homeschooling.
Uwe and Hannelore Romeike, along with their six children, wanted to home-school their children in Germany, but were not permitted to do so under German law. They sought and were granted political refuge in the U.S. by an immigration judge in 2010, but now the Department of Homeland Security is claiming that German laws banning homeschooling do not violate the family’s human rights.
U.S. Immigration Judge Lawrence Burman, who granted the Romeike’s asylum, said that “the (German) government is attempting to enforce this Nazi-era law against people that it purely seems to detest because of their desire to keep their children out of school.”
According to the Associated Press, however, the Board of Immigration Appeals found Burman’s assertion to be erroneous, adding that the actual record did not support “inflammatory suggestion that it is a Nazi-era law.”
The Romeike’s appeal to the 6th Circuit will hear oral arguments April 23.
“The Obama administration is basically saying there is no right to home school anywhere,” Michael Farris, founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association (which is representing the Romeike family) told Fox News. “It’s an utter repudiation of parental liberty and religious liberty.”
“They are trying to send a family back to Germany where they would certainly lose custody of their children,” Farris said. “Our government is siding with Germany.”
Farris maintains the Germans frown upon home schools because they believe they breed “religious and philosophical minorities” — something he says they would rather do without in their country.
“That means they don’t want to have significant numbers of people who think differently than what the government thinks,” he said. “It’s an incredibly dangerous assertion that people can’t think in a way that the government doesn’t approve of.”
Farris quipped that the Obama administration could grant millions of current illegal immigrants what amounts to amnesty, yet his administration is seeking deport one German family.
“Eleven million people are going to be allowed to stay freely – but this one family is going to be shipped back to Germany to be persecuted,” he said. “It just doesn’t make any sense.”
If returned to Germany, the Romeikes face thousands of dollars in fines, prison sentences and the potential of losing their children, according to reports in the Associated Press and Fox News.
“Families that want to have an alternative education can’t get it in Germany,” Farris said. “Even the private schools have to teach public school curriculum.”
The family decided to move to the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee after German authorities threatened to take away the parents’ custody.
“We are very happy here to be able to freely follow our conscience and to home school our children,” Uwe, a classically trained pianist told Fox News. “Where we live in Tennessee is very much like where we lived in Germany.”
“If we go back to Germany we know that we would be prosecuted and it is very likely the Social Services authorities would take our children from us.”
According to Uwe, German schools were teaching their children values not in line with their own, as Evangelical Christians.
“The German schools teach against our Christian values,” he said. “Our children know that we home school following our convictions and that we are in God’s hands. They understand that we are doing this for their best – and they love the life we are living in America on our small farm.”
“The right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children has been at the pinnacle of human rights,” he said. “But not in this country.”
According to the AP, Romeike also claimed the schools taught witchcraft based on a game played by classmates of his wife when she was in the seventh grade “that involved pushing chairs and glasses around, and dangling a pendulum.”
“It’s [Germany] a democracy. They respect human rights,” said Michael Donnelly, an attorney and HSLDA’s director of international affairs. “But in this area it’s frightening how they treat people who want to do something very simple. There are 2 million children home-schooled in the U.S. … This is not a threat to the German state, but they are treating it that way, and it’s wrong.”
To learn more about how the case has progressed and how the Romeike’s are faring, the family’s attorney and founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), Michael Farris, will speak to the Glenn Beck Radio Program on Monday, March 18, 2013 at approximately 9:05 a.m. ET. Be sure to tune in here.