A German homeschool family that has been battling to remain in the United States because of religious persecution in their homeland has lost a major court battle. On May 14, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a 2012 decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals denying a request by Uwe and Hannalore Romeike to remain in the United States with their six children.
The Romeikes fled to the United States in 2008 following several years of fines and harassment from the German government because of their insistence on educating their children at home. In 2010, U.S. Immigration Judge Lawrence O. Burman ruled that the Romeike family could remain in the United States, citing Germany's record of persecuting homeschool families, as well as the Romeikes' religious motivation in wishing to keep their children out of Germany's aggressively secular schools.
Since then the Obama administration's Department of Justice has taken a particular interest in targeting the Romeikes for deportation, succeeding last year in convincing the immigration appeals board to overturn Judge Burman's initial ruling in favor of asylum for the family. The Romeikes have been represented by the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) whose president, Michael Farris, expressed his disappointment over the Court of Appeals' ruling. “We believe the Sixth Circuit is wrong and we will appeal their decision,” Farris said in a statement. “America has room for this family and we will do everything we can to help them.”
In its ruling the Appeal Court rejected the argument that the Romeikes represented a persecuted group because of their plight at the hands of a German government, which has instituted laws aggressively vindictive against homeschool families. “There is a difference between the persecution of a discrete group and the prosecution of those who violate a generally applicable law,” wrote Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton in his opinion for the court. “As the Board of Immigration Appeals permissibly found, the German authorities have not singled out the Romeikes in particular or homeschoolers in general for persecution. As a result, we must deny the Romeikes' petition for review and, with it, their applications for asylum.”
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