German Family Denied Asylum by U.S. Court of Appeals

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A Christian family who fled Germany due to fears of prosecution for home-schooling their children were denied asylum by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. The court claimed U.S. immigration laws did not designate the family to qualify for asylum.

Homeschooling has been illegal in German since 1918, when normal school attendance was made compulsory. The Romeike family chose to attempt to homeschool their children anyways in 2006 and they were faced with fines and threats of legal action from the government. Such legal action included a potential loss of custody of their children.

In an attempt to escape this legal action, the Romeike family fled to the U.S. in 2008 and they were granted political asylum in 2010. They established their new home in Tennessee. Under U.S. Law, the family may qualify for asylum if they are being persecuted because of their religion or because they are part of a certain “social group”.

In 2012, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement challenged the ruling that granted the family asylum, claiming that Germany’s strict policy against homeschooling did not necessarily constitute prosecution. The original ruling was overturned, on the basis that homeschoolers did not belong to a particular social group.

The family appealed this decision to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. This court ruled that the family did not thoroughly establish the prerequisites of an asylum claim, which includes a well-founded fear of prosecution on account of a protected ground. This time, the family constituted this protected ground as religious freedom.

In court documents, however, it was stated that the Romeike family did not belong to any particular Christian denomination and that the parent’s objections to the German schools were quite vague. One parent claimed that a school textbook suggested you could “receive help from the devil, but not from God”, although unable to recall a title or author, and that the schools taught witchcraft.

Many American evangelical Christians and homeschool families have supported the cause for the Romeike family to be granted asylum, as a White House petition on behalf of the Romeike family has already gathered over 123,000 signatures.

Author: Sean Foley – Legal Trainee BridgehouseLaw Charlotte

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