House Panel Approves Bill That Would Grant Foreign Homeschool Families Asylum in U.S.

Romeike FamilyWASHINGTON — A House panel has approved a bill that—among other asylum and immigration concerns—would grant foreign homeschooling families asylum in the U.S. if they face persecution in their native country for opting to teach their children at home.

HR 1153, approved 17-13 in the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, was inspired in part by the story of Ewe and Hannelore Romeike, who were under threat of deportation by American officials after they fled their homeland of Germany where homeschooling is illegal.

As previously reported, the Romeikes had been battling the matter in the courts for several years while continuing to raise their six children in rural Tennessee. The Romeike family fled to the United States in 2008 after German authorities demanded that they stop homeschooling in violation of national law.

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was made illegal in the country in 1938 under the dictatorship of Adolph Hitler, and the law has never been repealed, but rather strengthened. The Romeike children were taken from their parents for a time because they were being homeschooled, and the family consequently fled 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 Department of Justice later appealed the ruling to the Sixth Circuit, which overturned Burman’s decision.

As the Sixth Circuit recently denied a request for rehearing, the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), which represented the family in court, appealed the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court. Although the court declined to hear the case, the Department of Homeland Security contacted the organization the day after the decision to advise that it had decided to grant the Romeike’s “indefinite deferred action status,” meaning that the family would not be deported as originally ordered.

Now, HSLDA along with Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert Goodlatte (R-Va.), have introduced legislation that would allow up to 500 homeschooling families to be granted asylum each year. It would also require the U.S. attorney general to hire at least 50 more immigration judges, which in turn would make it easier for families to obtain asylum.

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“No one should be forced to flee their homeland in order to homeschool,” HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris said in a press release about the bill. “But that is what the Romeikes and scores of other families have had to do in order to escape crushing fines, criminal penalties and even the seizure of their children in countries like Germany and Sweden.”

“Homeschooling is no threat to free societies, and I applaud the Congress for taking action so that families like the Romeikes and others who experience ill treatment may find refuge and legal status in the land of the free,” he added.

Wednesday’s 17-13 vote will now allow the measure to move on to the full House for a vote.

The Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act of 2015 also addresses other matters that are more controversial, such as the influx of children coming across the border unaccompanied by their parents.

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  • Becky Taylor

    This is awesome! This would likely bring in large families with well behaved children too.

    • Better AndBetter

      Do you feel the same way about christian immigrants from Mexico?

      • Becky Taylor

        Many people in the name of Christianity came to this country and took it while claiming to be Christian. They killed people while claiming to be Christian. If you come to a land obey the laws of the land so long as they do not command immorality, idolatry, or murder. I would welcome any person fleeing trouble whether they are Christian or not. I would welcome any true Christian but not because they say they are a Christian. If somebody wants to come to this country let them come legally no matter who they are but make exceptions for those fleeing for their lives. I am a Christian and I can not ignore the plight of the persecuted and poor but I also highly value law and order. I do not always agree with the harsh judgments of my fellow conservatives but I understand that it is because they feel that we are descending into lawlessness. I recognize that this is a nation of immigrants but this is my home and the home of some of my ancestors. I am a white person who’s mother is half native. She belongs to a tribe so this isn’t just hear say. It bothers me when people justify illegal immigration now simply because it happened before and it also bothers me when people call them moochers and lazy people. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Still I believe that even though we shouldn’t embrace lawlessness empathy still needs to be had and the lives and reasons of all the people that come to our door needs to be closely looked at.

      • Lupe

        Not about the ILLEGALS. There are MANY LEGAL immigrants here that joined our society LEGALLY. They paid their bucks and did their homework. No problem with them.
        It’s the ILLEGALS that I have a problem with.

  • Ambulance Chaser

    So, suddenly the Right is in favor of granting amnesty to illegal immigrants who bring large families of kids and where at least one of the parents doesn’t work?

    • Better AndBetter

      Their hypocrisy knows no bounds.

    • Lupe

      Are you sure they are ILLEGAL?
      Did they have Visas (legal)?
      Are they naturalized (legal)?

  • Better AndBetter

    So, the screams of “No immigration reform!” don’t apply to the mythologically brainwashed from other nations?

    Ah, the hypocrisy of the religious continues in full force.

    • Lupe

      That’s a new scream to me.
      Can you site a source please so I can get caught up.

  • jcrosby35

    government has open the doors of the country to muslims and every
    scumbag who can find a way to sneak over the borders. But they turn away
    and persecute Christians even though a great majority of Christian are
    well educated and professional. As a result our country is being turned
    into a third world Godless slum.

    • Nice “Christian” attitude. You worship God with that mouth?

      • jcrosby35

        Joh 4:22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.
        Joh 4:23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.
        Joh 4:24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
        Do you know anything about worship?
        Or are you here as a race baiter and trouble maker?
        Since you have made yourself my judge, tell us how you worship God.
        Then tell us how we should pray for these radical muslims.
        Let us get it right out front here for everyone. Then let them judge.
        Jesus Christ is Lord.

  • WorldGoneCrazy

    God bless the HSLDA for ensuring that homeschooling is legal in all 50 states and for helping this beautiful family, the Romeikes, escape the fascism of present-day Germany!

  • Grace Kim Kwon

    Wonderful! Germany and Sweden should allow homeschooling, too.

  • sammy13

    Terrific news.