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Uwe and Hannelore Romeike fled Germany after their family was vigorously prosecuted with steep fines, threats of loss of custody of their children, and imprisonment—all for homeschooling. Homeschooling is largely illegal in Germany.
Though the family was granted political asylum in the United States, the Obama administration appealed that decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals, and that Board decided in favor of the federal government. The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), which represents the Romeikes, then appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which denied asylum. HSLDA now intends to petition the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Sixth Circuit denied the family’s request for rehearing last week after seemingly showing some interest in the case. HSLDA submitted a petition for rehearing en banc on May 28th, and the Sixth Circuit requested that the Department of Justice respond on June 12th. The family’s petition was then denied on the grounds that the issues raised had already been considered during the original hearing.
“This is not over yet,” said Michael Farris, founder and chairman of HSLDA, in a press release. “We are taking this case to the Supreme Court because we firmly believe that this family deserves the freedom that this country was founded on.”
The Sixth Circuit’s opinion contains two clear errors: First, they wholly ignored Germany’s proclamation that a central reason for banning homeschooling is to suppress religious minorities. Second, the Sixth Circuit erred when it failed to address the claim that parental rights are so fundamental that no government can deny parents the right to choose an alternative to the public schools.
If deported, the Romeike family faces thousands of dollars in fines and possible jail time because they have homeschooled their children.
“The German High Court is on record for saying that religious homeschoolers should be targeted and severely punished, yet our Justice Department sees nothing wrong with that,” Farris said. “The Attorney General and Sixth Circuit are ignoring critical evidence and are trying to send back this family who is trying to stay in our country legally.”
In an interview with Breitbart News, Farris admitted that the path to the Supreme Court “is always uphill.” He is optimistic, however, because he believes the Romeikes’ case has the legal criteria that the High Court looks for.
“This case raises an array of important questions,” he said. “The ultimate question is what is the policy of the United States with regard to asylum when another country denies basic human rights to its citizens?”
Farris emphasizes Germany’s purposeful discouragement of religious organizations from the development of “parallel societies.”
“They say they’re doing it for tolerance,” he asserts. “But their view of tolerance is coerced homogenization. And the U.S. is backing that; our government is turning our back on liberty.”
Farris added, “The Obama administration’s definition of tolerance is not the same as the founders’ idea of religious liberty. It’s actually totally opposite.”
“The basic question here,” he summarized, “is are we going to stand for religious liberty, or not?”