NASHVILLE — Attorneys for Christian parents who fled Germany in order to home school their children but have been denied U.S. asylum said they are preparing to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case and were working with Congress to try to change asylum law.
The Romeikes moved to Morristown in eastern Tennessee in 2008 after an escalating fight with German officials that led to fines totaling 7,000 euros, or more than $9,000. Uwe and Hannelore Romeike said they feared that if they stayed in Bissingen an der Teck in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, their children could be taken away because the family refused to comply with a law mandating that all children attend school.
The family initially was granted asylum by a Memphis immigration judge, but that ruling was overturned.
In May, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals said the family did not meet the criteria for asylum, finding that Germany does not single out religious minorities for persecution. The court found that Germany treats all truants the same regardless of the reason, religious or not. Earlier this month, the court declined to revisit the issue.
The family's attorney Michael Farris, who also is the chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association, said he believes the appeals court erred in not finding that Germany is using the mandatory schooling law to try to stop religious minorities from developing larger groups.
"Germany's very open about it, but the (American) government has chosen to ignore what the German government has said about its motive. They've assumed this is a routine truancy case," he said.
Farris also believes that homeschooling is a fundamental right of parents.
Speaking of the 6th Circuit ruling, he said, "They took the position that if a nation wants to deny everyone a fundamental human right, that's OK. The government's gotten this wrong before on the forced abortion issue in China."
Farris said Congress had to step in on that issue to clarify asylum law and he hopes they will step in again. He is working with lawmakers to craft a bill that would address parents' rights to raise their children as they see fit, including home schooling.