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Homeschoolers turn to high court for asylum

WASHINGTON (BP) —- A German homeschooling family has lost another round in their effort to avoid deportation, apparently leaving the U.S. Supreme Court as their last hope.

The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected a request for it to rehear the case, which involves the Romeike family’s attempt to stay in this country and escape a forced return to Germany, where homeschooling is illegal. The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), which represents the Romeikes, had sought a rehearing before the entire 15-member appeals court in Cincinnati. A three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit had upheld in May a rejection of the family’s request for asylum in the United States.

HSLDA said it will ask the Supreme Court to review the appeals court’s July 12 decision.

“This is not over yet,” HSLDA chairman Michael Farris said in a written statement. “We are taking this case to the Supreme Court because we firmly believe that this family deserves the freedom that this country was founded on.”

Uwe and Hannelore Romeike, who are devout Christians, fled Germany with their five children in 2008. The Romeikes faced increasing fines and the risk of losing custody of their children in their home country unless the children attended school. They have had two more children born to them since arriving in the United States.

Farris said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who has refused to grant asylum to the Romeikes, and the Sixth Circuit have ignored important evidence, including Germany’s acknowledgment a primary reason for prohibiting home education “is to suppress religious minorities.”

HSLDA hopes the Supreme Court will recognize the same thing an immigration judge who granted asylum did — “this family and other religious homeschoolers in Germany are being persecuted for what they believe is the right way to raise their children,” Farris said.

The Sixth Circuit panel’s May decision upheld a ruling by the Board of Immigration Appeals, which struck down immigration Judge Lawrence Burman’s grant of asylum to the Romeikes. After the judge’s favorable ruling for the Romeikes in 2010, the Obama administration appealed his opinion to the immigration appeals board.

In its opinion, the Sixth Circuit panel said the Romeikes did not sufficiently make the case they had a “well-founded fear of persecution” based on being homeschoolers. The judges said the German government has “not singled out the Romeikes in particular or homeschoolers in general for persecution.”

After the May ruling, 27 Republicans in the House of Representatives urged Holder to grant asylum to the Romeike family. In a letter to the attorney general, they affirmed the immigration judge’s ruling, saying Burman found the Romeikes’ case met the legal standard for asylum, which is a “well-founded fear of future persecution on account of membership in a particular social group.”
Compiled by Baptist Press Washington bureau chief Tom Strode. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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