After seeking asylum in the United States 15 years ago to escape persecution in Germany for their Christian homeschooling beliefs, the Romeike family now confronts the daunting reality of deportation.
Uwe and Hannelore Romeike, along with their five children, made the difficult decision to leave Germany in 2008 due to the legal repercussions they faced for homeschooling. Having established their lives in the United States over the past fifteen years, the family is now confronted with the possibility of returning to Germany, where they may once again find themselves entangled in legal battles over their choice to homeschool.
The Romeike family was taken aback by the unexpected deportation orders. Uwe Romeike expressed their confusion during an interview with “Fox & Friends Weekend,” saying, “They did not tell us anything. We don’t really know why [this is happening]. We wonder ourselves because we can’t understand.”
Their journey towards homeschooling began when they enrolled their children in German public schools in the early 2000s. Shocked by the content of one of their child’s literature books, which promoted beliefs contrary to their Christian values, they decided to educate their children at home. Uwe Romeike explained, “It promoted praying to the devil rather than God, disobeying your parents, and teachers as authorities. There were stories about witchcraft. The only thing I found about Christian belief was about bunnies and eggs for Easter.”
The lack of transparency regarding the educational materials used in public schools further fueled their decision to homeschool. Uwe Romeike noted, “You don’t get to see all the books they use because they started, maybe 20 years ago, leaving the books at school, supposedly so they don’t have to carry heavy bags. We think it’s more so the parents don’t see what’s in them.”
The Romeikes decided to homeschool their children to protect them from exposure to content like witchcraft and graphic sex education taught in German schools. However, homeschooling is illegal in Germany, forcing the family to be part of an “underground” homeschooling community to maintain their freedom to impart Christian values.
The situation in Germany escalated for the Romeike family when they began homeschooling their children. Police arrived at their home, took the children to public school, and eventually took custody of them each morning to ensure they attended public school, returning them home in the afternoons. Uwe Romeike noted that this was a tipping point that led to their decision to leave Germany.
In 2010, the Romeike family was granted political asylum by Immigration Judge Lawrence Burman. However, in 2011, the Board of Immigration Appeals, under the U.S. Department of Justice, overturned this decision. In 2012, a three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit issued a unanimous decision against the family, refusing to classify what German homeschoolers faced as persecution deserving of asylum. Despite this setback, the family was granted indefinite deferred action status.
Kevin Boden, an attorney with the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) representing the Romeikes, explained that deferred action meant the government had the authority to take action but was deferring it for an indefinite period. Recently, it appears that this deferred action status has been revoked, prompting the family to prepare for their return to Germany.
The Romeike family believes that the Biden administration has the power to intervene and allow them to stay in the United States. HSLDA issued a statement emphasizing the potential consequences of deportation, stating, “Deportation to Germany will fracture these families while exposing the Romeikes to renewed persecution in Germany, where homeschooling is still illegal in almost every case.”
HSLDA remains hopeful that the United States’ executive branch can intervene as it did in the past, granting the Romeike family a respite from deportation and allowing them to continue their lives in the United States.