PURCELLVILLE, VA, March 4, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In a surprising last-minute turn-around, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today that they are granting “indefinite deferred action status” to the Romeikes, meaning the beleagured German homeschooling family won't be deported to their home country after all.
The development amounted to a shocking and welcome 180-degree turn for the family, who just yesterday had learned that the Supreme Court rejected their appeal of a lower court ruling refusing to grant the family asylum in the United States.
That decision meant that the Romeikes had run out of legal options, and likely faced deportation to their home country, where homeschooling is a punishable crime. Other German homeschooling families have suffered heavy-handed persecution from the government, including crippling fines, loss of custody of their children, and even imprisonment.
Today’s decision by the DHS was announced by the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) on their Facebook page, in a post that has been liked over 13,000 times, and shared just as many in the space of a few hours.
“The Romeike’s can stay!!!” they wrote on their page, adding “This is an incredible victory that can only be credited to our Almighty God.”
“What an amazing turnaround—in just 24 hours,” said HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris. “I also want to thank those who spoke up on this issue—including that long ago White House petition. We believe that the public outcry made a huge impact.”
The decision is especially surprising in light of the fact that the Obama administration had strongly opposed the original court decision in 2010 granting the Romeikes asylum, leading to the subequent loss of asylum status by the family, and the ensuing court battle.
After news broke Tuesday that the Supreme Court had declined their final appeal, the Romeikes' plight garnered widespread exposure and sympathy from across the country. FoxNews told HSLDA that they recorded 1 million page views of the Romeike’s story in 24 hours—an all-time high.
Uwe Romeike said this week that he is extremely grateful for the support and welcome he has received from America.
“We are happy to have indefinite status even though we won’t be able to get American citizenship any time soon,” he said. “As long as we can live at peace here, we are happy.”
“I thank God for his hand of blessing and protection over our family,” he said. “We thank the American government for allowing us to stay here and to peacefully homeschool our children—it’s all we ever wanted.”
HSLDA Director of International Affairs Mike Donnelly pointed out that the only reason the Romeikes had to come to America was because of Germany’s repressive policy towards homeschoolers.
“Germany’s persecution of homeschooling parents continues and is one reason, I suspect, that DHS was willing to grant the family indefinite status,” Donnelly said. “How could our country send this loving peaceful family back to be crushed by outrageous fines, criminal prosecution, and the loss of their children? Today Germany is holding another family prisoner only because they wanted to leave to go to France to homeschool their children. How could we send the Romeikes back to be treated like that?”
Farris said there is no way he would have let the family go back to Germany.
“When we lost at the Sixth Circuit, I told Uwe that he would go back to Germany over my dead body. I’m glad that wasn’t necessary! This is a courageous family and one that deserves to stay here. They are modern day Pilgrims.”