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 are working with Congress to try to change asylum law.
The Romeike family came to the U.S. from Germany five years ago hoping to find refuge. They wanted to homeschool their children in freedom and an immigration judge granted them asylum in 2010.
But the U.S. Justice Department wants them deported, arguing on appeal that homeschooling is not a right.
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 said that Germany treats all truants the same regardless of the reason, religious or not (a contention that American home-schooling experts would say is not true).
Earlier this month, the court declined to revisit the issue.
Uwe and Hannelore Romeike began homeschooling in Germany because didn't want their children exposed to things like witchcraft and graphic sex education that are taught in German schools.
"There were stories where (school children) were encouraged to ask the devil for help instead of God and actually the devil would help (in the story)," Uwe Romeike said.
"When we found out what's in the textbooks, it's exactly the opposite from what the Bible tells us and teaches us, and we wanted to protect (our children)," his wife, Hannelore, added.
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.
Farris said Congress had to step in on that issue to clarify the 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.
A source close to the case said the White House cares more about relations with Germany than about a family seeking political asylum. And asylum for the Romeikes might open a floodgate of refugees from Germany, further embarrassing the German government.
Uwe Romeike, who makes his living as a piano teacher, knows what to expect if they're deported back to Germany.
"First they would fine us with increasingly higher fines and they would threaten to take away custody," he said. "There might be jail time, too. But the main threat is the aspect of custody because then, of course, the children are taken away from you completely and that's what no family wants."