A German family who have lived in Tennessee for 15 years with government permission to homeschool their children may be deported this month after fighting unsuccessfully for asylum.
While the southern border remains open, allowing illegal immigrants with criminal histories to enter the country, law-abiding citizens like the Romeike family from Germany, who sought asylum for religious and educational freedom, are facing deportation.
The Romeike family moved to the United States in 2008, seeking the freedom to homeschool their children in line with their evangelical Christian faith, The Tennessean reported.
In Germany, homeschooling for religious reasons is not permitted, and the family faced fines and compulsory public schooling for their children.
Homeschooling has been illegal in Germany since 1919. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) upheld the ban in 2006. The ECHR argued that parents cannot use religion to justify homeschooling in Germany. Homeschooling is only permitted for medical reasons, and even then, it is rarely permitted.
New York Post reported:
The couple, who are evangelical Christians, decided to educate their kids on their own after witnessing how their children’s “whole personalities changed” and suffered health issues while attending public school, Uwe Romeike said.
The contents of their children’s textbooks, which included concepts against their religion such as endorsing abortion and homosexuality, in addition to insulting “family values,” further soured the parent’s faith in the public schools, according to court documents.
“The content we found in there is diametrically against what we believe in,” Uwe Romeike said. “Why would you teach a child to be disrespectful to parents? Why would you trust the Devil over God?”
After being slapped with over $7,000 in fines for yanking their kids from the public school system — and having the police show up at their door to escort their children to public school — the Romeikes relocated to Morristown, Tenn., where they filed for asylum, according to court documents.
Initially, a U.S. immigration judge granted the Romeike family asylum in 2010, citing a “well-founded fear of persecution” by the German government. However, Obama’s U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) appealed the decision and the family’s asylum status was revoked in May 2012.
“The goal in Germany is for an open, pluralistic society,” the Justice Department wrote at the time. “Teaching tolerance to children of all backgrounds helps to develop the ability to interact as a fully functioning citizen in Germany.”
According to The Tennessean, “The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) represented the Romeike family at their appeal to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. A three-judge panel ruled unanimously against the family, writing that they failed to show that Germany’s enforcement of its school attendance law “amounts to persecution against them.””
In 2014, the Romeikes’ petition for review by the US Supreme Court was denied. Despite the legal setbacks, the Department of Homeland Security allowed the family to stay under an order of supervision and indefinite deferred action status. However, in September 2023, the family was informed that they had four weeks to secure passports for their return to Germany and was given no explanation for their sudden deportation.
Deportation “would tear the family apart,” patriarch Uwe Romeike, 52, who worked as a piano accompanist at nearby Carson-Newman University told The Post.
“We are no financial burden for the government. We pay our taxes, we contribute to society and in the community,” he added.
According to Kevin Boden, the family’s lawyer, “The Obama administration appealed that to the Board of Immigration Appeals. That appeal court agreed with them, as did the Sixth Circuit, and the Supreme Court denied it…. We think this is, in fact, an asylum case. We do think they have a well-founded fear as we testified…”
“I can tell you today, I talked to families today that have fear in Germany and the fight there, the persecution there, is very real today as it was 15 years ago,” Boden continued.
Contrast this with the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border, where illegal immigration continues to be a significant issue. Despite the influx of millions of illegal immigrants in the past three years under the Biden regime, many of whom have criminal histories, the focus of immigration authorities seems to be on deporting a law-abiding family who has built their lives in Tennessee.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) wrote this week a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
“As millions of illegal immigrants flood across our southern border and disappear into our country, your immigration authorities have chosen to punish a family who has built their lives in Tennessee within the legal parameters of our immigration system.”