March 8, 2014

​Relief Granted to German Homeschoolers

BY TOM STRODE ©2014 Baptist Press

German homeschooling couple and their children who are part of a Southern
Baptist church have received notice from the Obama administration they will not
be deported only a day after their hopes appeared dashed by the U.S. Supreme

The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) announced March 4 it had been
contacted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with news the federal
entity would not deport Uwe and Hannelore Romeike and their seven children. DHS
verbally informed HSLDA, which has represented the family in court, the
Romeikes had been granted "indefinite deferred status," which means
they will be able to remain in the United States permanently unless they violate
the terms of that status.

The surprising turn of events came only a day after the Supreme Court announced
it would not accept an appeal by the Romeikes to review a lower court's
rejection of their request for asylum in this country.

The Romeikes and their seven children had been seeking to stay in the United
States and avoid a forced return to Germany, where homeschooling is illegal.
The devout Christian couple fled Germany with their five children in 2008 in
the face of increasing fines and the risk of losing custody of their children
in their home country unless the children attended school. They have had two
more children born to them since arriving in the United States.

The parents and the five older Romeike children are members of First Baptist
Church in Morristown, Tenn. Uwe serves as a deacon, as well as the church's
pianist. The Romeikes, who joined First Baptist Church in April 2012, have
lived in east Tennessee while in this country.

The Southern Baptist Convention's leading spokesman on religious freedom issues
expressed hopefulness about the Obama administration's decision.

"I hope and pray that DHS will not deport this family and will stand for
our long-held commitment to helping those oppressed for their religious
convictions," said Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethics &
Religious Liberty Commission.

Deporting the Romeikes would be "reprehensible," Moore said.
"America has always sought to be a home for the oppressed around the
world. Educating one's children according to one's religious convictions is a
human right."

Returning the family to Germany would be "the repudiation of a great
American heritage," he said. "This should remind us of how imperiled
religious liberty is at home and around the world."

In announcing the DHS decision, HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris described it as
"an amazing turnaround -- in just 24 hours" and "an incredible
victory that I can only credit to Almighty God."

Farris also commended the Americans who spoke out for the Romeikes. "We
believe that the public outcry made a huge impact," he said in a written

Uwe Romeike said his family was glad to receive indefinite deferred status from
DHS despite the inability to gain American citizenship soon.

"As long as we can live at peace here, we are happy," he said in a
HSLDA news release. "We have always been ready to go wherever the Lord
would lead us -- and I know my citizenship isn't really on earth. This has
always been about our children. I wouldn't have minded staying in Germany if
the mistreatment targeted only me -- but our whole family was targeted when
German authorities would not tolerate our decision to teach our children --
that is what brought us here.

"I thank God for his hand of blessing and protection over our family. We
thank the American government for allowing us to stay here and to peacefully
homeschool our children -- it's all we ever wanted," said Uwe Romeike, who
also expressed gratitude to friends, fellow homeschoolers and HSLDA.

The Supreme Court's March 3 announcement it would not review the Romeike's
appeal appeared to leave limited hope the family would avoid deportation. The
prospect of avoiding deportation seemed to rest with action by Congress or --
in what appeared to be an extreme longshot -- a reversal of course by President
Obama. The Obama administration had opposed asylum for the Romeikes and had
rebuffed appeals to grant that status to the family.

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