WASHINGTON DC, March 4, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The United States Supreme Court declined Tuesday to review the case of German homeschoolers Uwe and Hannelore Romeike after the parents have fought in the courts for years to win asylum.
After the Romeikes won asylum initially in 2010, the Obama administration opposed their petition through the appeal process. Now they face deportation and could lose their children if they choose to continue homeschooling in Germany.
“While this is the end of the line for normal legal appeals, we are not giving up,” says Michael Farris, chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association and lead counsel for the Romeikes in the appellate courts.
“We knew it was an uphill battle since the Court only accepts 80–100 out of nearly 10,000 requests each year. While we are disappointed, the court’s decision in no way changes our commitment to fight for the Romeikes and homeschooling freedom,” he said. “The court’s decision is not a decision on the merits of the case—however, it was the last judicial hope for the family.”
The Romeikes, formerly of Bissingen, Germany, along with their five children, fled to the United States in August 2008 to avoid losing custody of their children to the German government. The family settled in Eastern Tennessee where they were warmly welcomed by local homeschool supporters and were assisted by the Home School Legal Defense Association.
The family was initially granted asylum by a US immigration judge in 2010 after he determined that the German government’s refusal to permit them to homeschool for religious reasons amounted to persecution. Germany had threatened to levy fines, file criminal charges, and take custody of the children if the Romeikes did not stop homeschooling.
The Obama Administration appealed the immigration judge's decision and prevailed on two levels of appeals.
The HSLDA noted that prior to yesterday's denial, the Supreme Court had ordered the United States Solicitor General to respond to the Romeike’s petition. The case had also been carried forward for one week on the Court’s conference schedule—normally a sign of some interest in the case by the Court.
Describing his plans for the Romeikes, Farris said, “We will pursue changes to the asylum law in this country to insure that religious freedom is once again vigorously protected in our policy. Even now, we have been working with supportive members of Congress to introduce legislation that could help the Romeikes and others who flee persecution.”
“I am just glad that the Pilgrims did not face this anti-religious policy when they landed at Plymouth Rock,” Farris observed.
“After all, the Pilgrims left England to find religious freedom, but they left Holland to find a place that was both safe for their children and which provided religious freedom. These are the very values which our nation today has decided to abandon,” he stated.
“The recent story of the Wunderlich family, whose children were seized just because of homeschooling and who are now effectively imprisoned in Germany, demonstrates how important this issue is,” said HSLDA Director of International Relations Michael Donnelly. “The fact that our own government is unwilling to support asylum for these families is troubling.”
If forced to return to Germany, the Romeikes may face additional fines and jail time, along with the loss of their children to state custody.