By Jason Devaney
A homeschooling German family that was granted asylum six years ago and was on the verge of being deported after the Supreme Court rejected its final appeal on Monday will be allowed to remain in the country after all.
The Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday the Romeike family could remain in the U.S. — without receiving citizenship.
“This is an incredible victory that I can only credit to Almighty God. I also want to thank those who spoke up on this issue — including that long ago White House petition,” Home School Legal Defense Association Chairman Michael Farris said in a press release.
“We believe that the public outcry made a huge impact. What an amazing turnaround — in just 24 hours.”
The case stems from the family’s belief that its children should be home schooled. Germany would not allow that practice, and Uwe and Hannelore Romeike — who have raised their children as devout Christians and began home schooling three of them in 2006 — feared they would lose custody of them after German authorities visited the family’s home and began issuing fines. Attending state-approved schools is mandatory in Germany.
The Romeikes knew another German family in Morristown, Tenn., so they moved there with their five children in 2008. Since then, the couple has had another child and is now expecting its seventh.
The family was granted asylum in 2010, marking the first time home schooling was successfully used as a reason for earning asylum in this country, according to a World Magazine article.
The family then lost its asylum status at every level of court it faced after the Obama administration balked at the decision. A White House petition was submitted; the White House declined to comment on the specifics of the case, saying only that “homeschooling is a popular option for many parents pursuing high academic standards for their children.”
The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has been working with the family to keep it from getting deported.
“When we lost at the Sixth Circuit [in 2013], I told Uwe that he would go back to Germany over my dead body,” Farris said in the HSLDA release. “I’m glad that wasn’t necessary! This is a courageous family and one that deserves to stay here. They are modern day Pilgrims.”
Monday’s Supreme Court ruling all but sealed the family’s fate before Homeland Security stepped in.
“Our entire family is deeply grateful for all the support of our friends and fellow homeschoolers and especially HSLDA,” Uwe Romeike said in the HSLDA release. “I thank God for his hand of blessing and protection over our family. We thank the American government for allowing us to stay here and to peacefully homeschool our children — it’s all we ever wanted.”
The HSLDA says the Romeikes were granted “indefinite deferred action status” and can stay in the U.S. for the foreseeable future. Monday’s Supreme Court ruling showed that the U.S. government does not consider home schooling a fundamental human right; the Department of Homeland Security’s decision goes against that.
Still, the family will not be U.S. citizens. The Romeikes will remain in the U.S. as, essentially, refugees.
“As long as we can live at peace here, we are happy,” Uwe Romeike told the HSLDA.
“We have always been ready to go wherever the Lord would lead us — and I know my citizenship isn’t really on Earth. This has always been about our children. I wouldn’t have minded staying in Germany if the mistreatment targeted only me — but our whole family was targeted when German authorities would not tolerate our decision to teach our children — that is what brought us here.”