The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered the United States Justice Department to respond to a rehearing request filed by attorneys for a Christian homeschooling family that is seeking asylum in the states.
As previously reported, the Sixth Circuit ruled against Uwe and Hannelore Romeike last month, opining that the requirement that their children be sent to public school in their homeland of Germany cannot be considered persecution.
“[T]he Romeikes [have] not shown that Germany’s enforcement of its general school-attendance law amounts to persecution against them, whether on grounds of religion or membership in a recognized social group,” the court stated. “There is a difference between the persecution of a discrete group and the prosecution of those who violate a generally applicable law.”
“As the Board of Immigration Appeals permissibly found, the German authorities have not singled out the Romeikes in particular or homeschoolers in general for persecution,” it continued. “As a result, we must deny the Romeikes’ petition for review and, with it, their applications for asylum.”
The Romeike family fled to the United States in 2008 after German authorities demanded that they stop homeschooling their six children. Homeschooling was made illegal in the country in 1938 under the dictatorship of Adolph Hitler, and the law has never been repealed, but rather strengthened. In 2007, the German Supreme Court ruled that the country’s mandate that children be sent to public school is necessary to “counteract the development of religious and philosophically motivated parallel societies.”
German officials have been cracking down on families that keep their sons and daughters at home, and have threatened them with fines, imprisonment and even the removal of the children from the household. The Romeike children were taken from their parents for a time before fleeing to the United States for refuge.
In 2010, Memphis immigration judge Lawrence Burman granted the family asylum, stating that he believed the Romeike’s would face persecution for their faith if they returned to Germany. However, the Justice Department later appealed the ruling to the Sixth Circuit, which overturned Burman’s decision.
Now, the Virginia-based Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), which has been representing the Romeike family, is seeking to have the case reheard by the full Court of Appeals. It says that it is pleased with the court’s order that the Obama administration respond to the request.
“Most requests for en banc rehearing are summarily denied without any further action,” said Director Litigation James Mason in a recent news release. “Here, the court has requested that the Justice Department respond, indicating that the Court is taking our petition seriously.”
“The Sixth Circuit should take this case en banc,” added HSLDA President Mike Farris. “The opinion of the three-judge panel ignored important evidence, muddled the law, and, most importantly, missed the opportunity to defend a quintessential American value—the freedom for parents to educate their children. Germany prohibits this behavior, and America should be a refuge for those who seek this freedom.”
The Justice Department has until June 26 to contest the request that the case be reheard by the court.