2.26.2013

Revoking Family's Asylum in the U.S. Does not Foster Family Restoration

Parents have the right to direct the upbringing of their children.  That right is constitutionally protected in the United States, but not in all nations.  When the Romeike family was being forced to stop homeschooling their children by government-ordered police action, they fled to the United States.  The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) successfully represented them in their immigration asylum claims, and they became the first family to obtain asylum for the protection of homeschooling rights. 

Now the U.S. Department of Justice is petitioning to revoke that asylum.  “The U.S. Department of Justice wants to revoke asylum granted to a German family that fled their country after facing persecution for homeschooling their five children. Germany has a broad ban on homeschooling with very few exceptions.  Music teachers Uwe and Hannelore Romeike were prohibited from homeschooling. The evangelical Christians withdrew their children from public school in 2006. They were concerned that the school’s values were in conflict with their values. Two years later — after facing police visits to their home to take their kids to public school — the family moved to the U.S.

In 2010, the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) took the Romeikes’ case, and helped them win a legal battle. They became the first family to obtain asylum for the protection of homeschooling rights. For a while, the Romeikes were able to homeschool their children in their small Tennessee town. But then Attorney General Eric Holder appealed the decision to the Board of Immigration. The Board sided with the government. HSLDA then appealed to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The way the government argued the case undercut parents’ rights to raise and teach their children as they wish.

“(Holder’s office) argued that there was no violation of anyone’s protected rights in a law that entirely bans homeschooling ,” HSLDA Founder and Chairman Michael Farris writes on the organization’s website.  Holder’s second argument is revealing, he said. “The U.S. government contended that the Romeikes’ case failed to show that there was any discrimination based on religion because, among other reasons, the Romeikes did not prove that all homeschoolers were religious, and that not all Christians believed they had to homeschool.”  This argument reveals a dangerous form of “group think,” Farris added. “The central problem here is that the U.S. government does not understand that religious freedom is an individual right,” he explained. “One need not be part of any church or other religious group to be able to make a religious freedom claim. Specifically, one doesn’t have to follow the dictates of a church to claim religious freedom — one should be able to follow the dictates of God himself.”
Read the entire article by Bethany Monk of Citizen Link at “U.S. Wants to Send Christian Homeschool Family Back to Germany,” at
http://www.citizenlink.com/2013/02/18/u-s-wants-to-send-christian-homeschool-family-back-to-germany/ .  You can also read the Romeikes’ opening brief.  And here you can read the DOJ’s response to the Romeikes’ opening brief.  Finally, read the Romeikes’ reply brief.

Parents’ rights are fundamentally protected in the United States, and those rights inure to all immigrants who are granted asylum.  To revoke that asylum is extremely unusual.  The challenges families face in immigration policies are numerous and I have written about them before.  You can access those remarks, entitled “The Challenges of Family Law and Immigration Policy,” at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1962671.  The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals will determine if police-forced public education that parents have deemed not in the best interests for their children is sufficient grounds for granting asylum.   To learn more about what rights parents have in protecting their children see the new book out by Congressman Steve Bloom and Kerriel Bailey, Esq. (Regent Law 2008), entitled They’ve Crossed the Line: A Patriot’s Guide to Religious Freedom, available at www.AMGPublishers.com.  

Revoking one family’s asylum could be a strong signal of harm to families and to the immigration process that might have otherwise worked toward family restoration.


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