ICC Note: For seven years the Romeike family from Germany fought for the right to remain in the United States. They had fled their native Germany were they faced possible prosecution and the loss of their children after making the decision, based on their Christian beliefs, to educate their children at home. Homeschooling remains illegal in Germany, thanks to legislation passed under the National Socialists in 1938. Their case raises a major Christian on the role the United States should play in providing sanctuary to Christian families who are persecuted for homeschooling their children.
4/29/14 United States (MSN) – Should a family educating their children at home out of faith-based conviction in a country where homeschooling is illegal be able to claim asylum in the United States on grounds of religious persecution?
For Uwe and Hannelore Romeike of Germany, who arrived in the United States in 2008, the question hovered over them for seven years while at once seizing the attention of other homeschoolers, rights advocates and observers the world over. Initially a U.S. immigration judge answered, “Yes, they can.” Then the Department of Justice’s Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) in 2010 said, “No,” overturning the ruling.
In May 2013 the family lost an appeal in federal court, and last month the U.S. Supreme Court declined to rule on the case, seemingly sending the Romeikes back to Germany. Yet they’re still at their home in Tennessee, beneficiaries of a decision by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to grant them an indefinite extension of their deferred immigration status.
With the Supreme Court declining to accept the case on March 3 and the DHS granting the family indefinite deferral the next day, the Romeikes’ emotional roller-coaster took another steep descent and climb.
“We were of course very disappointed [by the Supreme Court refusal], but given the fact that the Supreme Court only takes about 1 percent of all cases presented to them, this was to be expected,” Uwe Romeike told Morning Star News. “Aside from the disappointment, we were still hopeful to God that He would do something: either provide a different way for us to be able to stay in the U.S. or open another door for us somewhere else. When we heard about [the DHS decision], we were very relieved and thankful to the Lord for hearing the many prayers of thousands of Christians around the world who were praying for our family!”
The Romeikes and their seven children – the youngest 10 months old, the oldest 17 – needn’t fear being deported anymore as long as they obey laws and report to DHS, but they are left stranded high atop the roller-coaster.
“We are satisfied with this outcome for us as a family, though we would rather be able to become American citizens,” Romeike said. “This resolution is not helpful for other families that now don’t have the opportunity to come here for the same reasons we came. America should be a haven for Christians around the world who cannot freely exercise their faith in the country they live in. It’s sad that this is not the case anymore.”
The Romeikes’ attorney, however, told Morning Star News that their case does not set a precedent.
“There are other families who have suggested they would like asylum, and this case does not definitively proscribe them from doing so,” said Michael P. Donnelly, director of international affairs at the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA).