Home-schooling family who fled to U.S. from Germany face deportation:

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Parents face charges and $9,000 fine for taking kids out school as Obama officials prepare to send them back

The Obama administration is arguing in federal court that a homeschooling family from Germany should be deported back to their homeland, despite what they say is religious persecution. The German government prevented Uwe and Hannelore Romeike from teaching their five children at home instead of sending them to government-run schools, fining them and threatening to prosecute them if they don’t obey.

When they took their three oldest children out of school in 2006, police showed up at their house within 24 hours, only leaving after a group of supporters showed up and organized a quick protest.

But their legal troubles were just beginning. Germany began fining the family, ultimately racking up a bill of more than 7,000 Euros ($9,000).

After they fled to the United States in 2010, the Romeike family initially were granted political asylum and found a home in Tennessee. They had a sixth child. But then U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) appealed the asylum decision in 2012.

The federal Board of Immigration Appeals sided with the government despite a 2011 policy that gives the government broad discretion to pursue only high-priority cases.

ICE would not provide details about the case, or its reasons for pursuing the Romeikes.

‘We do not comment on pending litigation,’ ICE public affairs officer Brandon Montgomery told MailOnline.

Uwe and Hannelore Romeike fled Germany with their five children because the government there criminalized home schooling

Uwe and Hannelore Romeike fled Germany with their five children because the government there criminalized home schooling. A sixth child was born after they took up residence and Tennessee and won permanent asylum on human rights grounds. The Obama administration appealed and seeks their deportation back to Germany

The Romeikes teach their five school-age children at home, including computer lessons along with reading, writing, math, history, music and other subjects

The Romeikes teach their five school-age children at home, including computer lessons along with reading, writing, math, history, music and other subjects

The Home School Legal Defense Association sued the US Department of Justice because a judge in that agency’s Executive Office for Immigration Review was responsible for the decision.

A three-judge panel in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the case of Romeike v. Holder on April 23.

Michael Farris, that organization’s founding chairman, told MailOnline in a telephone interview that the even if the federal government doesn’t believe home schooling is a human rights issue that qualifies for political asylum, it can still let the family remain in the US and home school their children.

‘The attorney general absolutely has the discretion to let these people stay,’ Farris said of the devoutly Christian family.

‘I really wonder what would’ve happened to the Pilgrims under this administration,’ he said recently on the Fox News Channel.

Christopher Bentley, a Tennessee spokesman for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, an arm of the Department of Homeland Security, said his agency was involved in the case early on.

‘I can’t talk about any asylum cases in particular,’ he cautioned, ‘but our office would have responsibility for initially determining whether they qualified for asylum in the United States.’

‘We’re the first step in establishing “credible fear,” and then making a determination of whether they qualify for asylum in the United States. They have to claim that their government can’t protect them from persecution because they’re part of a specific group. That’s the basis for any asylum grant.’

White House petition seeks asylum for German home schooling family

‘We, the undersigned, respectfully request that the Obama Administration grant full and permanent legal status to Uwe and Hannelore Romeike and their children,’ the petition reads. If it attracts 100,000 signatures by April 18, it will trigger a response from the administration

At the point where the Romeikes were granted asylum, the Department of Homeland Security was off the case. But after the Board of Immigration Review heard the case and overturned the asylum ruling, DHS re-entered the picture, since it’s the agency charged with enforcing immigration judges’ decisions.

Farris has started a petition to pressure the White House to let the family remain in the country. It has attracted more than 21,000 signatures toward a goal of 100,000, which must be reached by April 18 in order to trigger a response from the Obama administration.

‘Every state in the United States of America recognizes the right to homeschool,’ the petition reads, ‘and the U.S. has the world’s largest and most vibrant homeschool community. Regrettably, this family faces deportation in spite of the persecution they will suffer in Germany.’

An estimated 2 million children in the US are home schooled.

But the practice is illegal in Germany. An estimated 200 families teach their own children there anyway, even at the risk of fines, criminal prosecution and, in some cases, the loss of custody of their children.

WTH! is wrong with our country and with Germany Homeschooling is illegal WHAT??? Just WRONG!

Uwe Romeike supervises one of her daughters during a reading lesson in their Tennessee home

Uwe Romeike supervises one of her daughters during a reading lesson in their Tennessee home. The Obama administration seeks their deportation back to Germany, where home schooling is illegal

Germany made school attendance mandatory in 1918. During the Nazi era, that law was made even more restrictive to ensure that young Germans were indoctrinated with Adolph Hitler’s national socialist ideology.

The German Supreme Court has ruled that it wants to ‘counteract the development of religious and philosophically motivated parallel societies,’ Farris explained. ‘And that’s a direct quote.’

‘We want to give them a safe harbor. That’s what asylum is for.’

That court ruled in 2007 that parents who home school their children can have their custody rights limited or eliminated entirely.

German families have sought refuge in both Canada and New Zealand in recent years, citing the same reasons as the Romeikes. Both cases were denied.

The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment. Attorney General Eric Holder could intervene and allow the Romeikes to remain in the country on humanitarian grounds, even if the Obama administration doesn’t believe home schooling parents should qualify for asylum as a matter of principle.

The school day in the Romeike household is a conducted around the kitchen table, with Uwe making the rounds as her children study

The school day in the Romeike household is a conducted around the kitchen table, with Uwe making the rounds as her children study. An advocacy group sued the federal government over their deportation order, and a federal appeals court will hear the case in April

Federal law allows refugees to stay in the United States permanently if they can show they are being persecuted for reasons including their religion or their membership in a ‘particular social group.’

But in its argument against the Romeikes’ asylum, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement called home schoolers too ‘amorphous’ to qualify.

‘United States law has recognized the broad power of the state to compel school attendance and regulate curriculum and teacher certification’ along with the ‘authority to prohibit or regulate homeschooling,’ ICE wrote.

When the Board of Immigration Appeals overturned the judge’s initial grant of asylum, it based its decision on a case where the European Court of Human Rights ruled that ‘the public education laws of Germany do not violate basic human rights.’

A science curriculum is part of the Romeikes' home schooling curriculum, including access to a microscope and laboratory equipment

A science curriculum is part of the Romeikes’ home schooling curriculum, including access to a microscope, laboratory equipment and other things they would have if they attended traditional schools. The German government forbids home schooling, and the US government wants them deported back to their home country

The Home School Legal Defense Association’s argument is that the federal government should not substitute international law for US law.

‘I think we have a really good case,’ Farris said.

He believes there are likely only three possibilities that would explain why the Obama administration is working so hard to deport the Romeike family.

‘It could be that the government is just anti-homeschooling, or anti-religious-freedom,’ Farris said. ‘Or perhaps they have some deal with the German government.’

‘I don’t know which it is, but none of the options is pretty.’

Romeike family

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