By Doug McKelway
(FoxNews.com) While the White House and many lawmakers push to grant legal status to
immigrants who crossed the border illegally, the Romeike family thought they
followed the rules -- but now face deportation.
They are devout Catholics who emigrated from Germany in 2008 to home school
their six children in Tennessee. As Uwe Romeike told Fox News, it is illegal to
do that in Germany.
"We don't have the freedom to home school our children in Germany," Romeike
told Fox News.
The U.S. granted the Romeikes political asylum, but in 2010 the Justice
Department intervened, ruling that home-schooling could not be used as grounds
to seek citizenship.
The department has ordered the Romeikes be deported. "Now it means same thing
as in Germany," Uwe Romeike said with a chuckle.
The family is appealing the ruling. Their case set for April 23 before the
6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.
The Home School Legal Defense Association will represent them. It sees their
denial of asylum as a fundamental threat to freedom. "In this particular case
there is an equivalency between human rights standards and our constitutional
rights. If our government takes the position that home-schooling is not a human
right for the Romeike case to give them the basis of asylum, then it may not be
a constitutional right for them as well," said Michael Farris of the HSLDA.
Immigration experts differ as to whether the Romeike's situation meets the
criteria for asylum here.
David Abraham, a professor at the University of Miami Law School, said:
"Germany, a democratic country, has chosen not to permit home schooling as one
of the options. Germans have a chance to change that through their legislature.
In the meantime, it doesn't exist and it is not persecution."
But Thomas Dupree, a Bush administration Justice Department lawyer disagrees.
"The administration has a wide variety of options at their disposal that range
from granting asylum to deferring any kind of action to remove these people," he
A petition on the White House website to grant the family permanent legal
status has garnered over 100,000 signatures -- a threshold that typically
triggers comment from the administration. A recording on that website tells
visitors, "If a petition gets enough signatures White House staff will review
it, ensure it's sent to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official
Home-schoolers in Germany face not just fines, but the potential removal of
children from their parents' custody. That is a level of punishment the Romeikes
say rises to persecution.