Susan Berry, Breitbart, March 29, 2013
The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has launched a petition on the White House website that urges the Obama administration to grant permanent legal status to the Romeike family of Germany. The family sought asylum in the United States because they homeschool their children, which is almost universally illegal in their home country.
In an unprecedented decision in January of 2010, a U.S. immigration judge, Lawrence O. Burman, granted asylum in the United States to Uwe and Hannalore Romeike. It was the first case ever to recognize homeschooling as a reason for granting asylum. In his decision, Judge Burman observed that the rights being denied the Romeikes were “basic human rights that no country has a right to violate.”
In addition, the judge expressed concern that while Germany is a democratic country and is an ally of the United States, this particular policy of persecuting homeschoolers is “repellent to everything we believe in as Americans.”
However, just two months following Judge Burman’s decision, the U.S. Government Agency for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) filed an appeal which claimed that homeschoolers were too “amorphous” to be a “particular social group.” The appeal argued that “United States law has recognized the broad power of the state to compel school attendance and regulate curriculum and teacher certification,” as well as the “authority to prohibit or regulate homeschooling.”
Though Judge Burman had determined that the German state’s policy of imposing heavy fines, the loss of custody of children, and possible criminal prosecution over homeschooling amounted to persecution, ICE criticized him for disregarding a case before the European Court of Human Rights which ruled that “the public education laws of Germany do not violate basic human rights.”
In its appeal, ICE argued that the U.S. government has the authority to simply prohibit homeschooling, and that this fact should disqualify the granting of asylum to the Romeikes. ICE further noted that Judge Burman “did not address how under various state laws of the United States a person can be similarly prosecuted for not sending one’s children to school.”
The Romeikes’ case, Romeike v. Holder, is now before the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and will be heard on April 23rd.
According to Michael Farris, HSLDA Founder and Chairman, the attorneys arguing for Attorney General Eric Holder and the Obama administration have put forth two central arguments. The first is that there is no fundamental right to homeschool. Second, the Romeikes’ case failed to show that the family suffered discrimination based on religion; they claimed the Romeikes did not prove that all homeschoolers were religious and that not all Christians believed they had to homeschool their children.