WASHINGTON – The Home School Legal Defense Association today reached a milestone victory in its efforts to assist a persecuted German homeschooling family who soon could be forced back to Germany by the Obama administration.
An online petition launched by HSLDA on the White House website asking the administration to grant permanent legal status to the Romeike family surpassed the needed 100,000 signatures.
That’s the threshold at which the Obama administration is supposed to provide a response on the question raised.
On April 23, HSLDA Founder Michael Farris will represent Uwe and Hannelore Romeike in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in an attempt to stop their deportation by the Obama administration.
The embattled Romeike family fled Germany in 2008 after the couple was ordered to turn over custody of their four children to the state because their homeschooling practices failed to meet the government’s demand for “integration.”
The Romeike’s ordeal didn’t end there. They were hit with thousands of dollars in fines, a potential lien on their home and possible jail time for homeschooling their children. They were originally granted asylum in 2010 by an immigration judge in the United Statse, but the Department of Justice appealed their asylum case saying the homeschoolers in Germany do not classify as a persecuted group, despite their ordeal.
The petition, which demands permanent legal status for the family members, quickly collected 25,000 then 75,000 and finally surpassed 100,000 signatures from Americans concerned about the precedent that this case could set.
“When the United States government says that homeschooling is a mutable choice, it is saying that a government can legitimately coerce you to change this choice,” Farris said. “In other words, you have no protected right to choose what type of education your children will receive.”
In an appearance on the Fox News’ The Mike Huckabee show, Uwe Romeike stated, “I think the most important thing about this is that the government sees that, not only are we interested in getting asylum, but the American people in general stand behind this case, and it’s all about freedom for parents to decide on their children’s education.”
Farris criticized the Obama administration’s position in the case.
“The public expects the White House to explain the inexplicable. In a season where the administration has expressed leniency for millions of undocumented immigrants, we are baffled by the extreme attitudes toward this one German family,” Farris said.
Attorneys for the Justice Department will be arguing before the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the Romeike family was not facing persecution because a government has the right to demand parents send their children to public schools, even if the school’s teaching are in conflict with the family’s religious beliefs.
“We should understand that in these arguments by the U.S. government, something important is being said about our own liberties as American homeschoolers,” Farris told WND in an earlier interview. “The attorney general of the United States thinks that a law that bans homeschooling entirely violates no fundamental liberties.”
Attorney General Eric Holder’s position is that the family does not qualify for political asylum, despite the fact that the Supreme Court of Germany already ruled that the ban on homeschooling was to “counteract the development of religious and philosophically motivated parallel societies.”
Homeschooling is recognized as a right by the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
HSLDA has created an online information page with details about the fight, opportunities to donate and a petition to the White House to halt the deportation.