Department of Homeland Security grants German family indefinite asylum | Deseret News National
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Tom Uhlman, Associated Press
Family

Department of Homeland Security grants German family indefinite asylum

One day after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear parents plead for asylum on the grounds that they risked being persecuted in Germany for refusing to enroll their five children in school, the Romeike family learned they won’t be deported from the United States, according to the BBC.

The Obama administration’s Department of Homeland Security granted the Romeike family “indefinite deferred action status” Tuesday.

Between the Supreme Court decision Monday and the Department of Homeland Security action Tuesday, Fox News recorded an unprecedented number of page hits on a single story. The Newscorp subsidiary told counsel for the Romeikes that it had “recorded one million page views of the Romeikes’ story in 24 hours — an all-time high.”

According to Fox News, the family can remain in Morristown, Tenn., and homeschool their children. The family moved to the United States in 2008 after the German government fined the Romeikes for failing to enroll their children in school. The Washington Times reports that two years later the Romeikes were granted asylum, but immigration officials overturned this decision. After an administrative appeals board denied the family asylum, the case went to the federal 6th Circuit Court of Appeals that also refused the family asylum.

Uwe and Hanalore Romeike, who are nondenominational evangelical Christians, argued in court documents that if their children were to attend public schools in Germany then they may be exposed to ideas that conflict with their deeply held religious beliefs.

“God requires me and my wife to educate our children at home ourselves,” according to the father. In a legal declaration, Uwe Romeike claimed “(a) teacher, especially a fun or popular teacher, who tells my child that I am wrong, will steal the heart of my child away from me and my wife as parents.”

On several occasions, he mentions his fear that schools teach witchcraft, to which he objects.

The Department of Justice argued that the family did not qualify for asylum since parents who allow their children to be truant from school are not punished based on religious grounds, but based on violation of a compulsory school attendance law applicable to all parents. Since everyone is treated equally, there is no religious persecution. The same logic applies to an argument the family advanced stating that a particular group, homeschoolers, were being disproportionately prosecuted.

The 6th Circuit Court agreed with the DOJ, stating, “the German authorities have not singled out the Romeikes in particular or homeschoolers in general for persecution.”

The Obama administration granted 12,000 people asylum in 2012, though 32,000 more applied, according to the Los Angeles Times. President Obama has deported many more immigrants than any previous president. Between 2009 and 2012, which is the latest data available, the president has deported 1.6 million individuals. In contrast, the Bush administration deported about two million immigrants in Bush's eight years in office, according to PBS’s Newshour.

jhardy@deseretnews.com