Fifteen-year-old Daniel Romeike loves America — his adopted country. But if the Obama Administration has its way, Daniel, his parents and his brothers and sisters will be deported in a court battle over the right to home school.
“If I had a chance to talk to President Obama, I would ask him to let us stay in this great country of freedom and opportunity,” Daniel told Fox News.
The Romeike family fled their German homeland in 2008 seeking political asylum in the United States – where they hoped to home school their children. Instead, the Obama administration wants the evangelical Christian family deported.
The fate of Uwe and Hannelore Romeike – along with their six children – now rests with the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In 2010 an immigration judge granted the family political refuge, but the Dept. of Homeland Security objected and argued they don’t deserve asylum.
Neither the Justice Dept. nor the Dept. of Homeland Security returned calls seeking comment.
“The Obama administration is basically saying there is no right to home school anywhere,” said Michael Farris, founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association. “It’s an utter repudiation of parental liberty and religious liberty.”
The HSLDA is not only representing the family, but they’ve also launched a White House petition urging President Obama to grant them asylum. Nearly 100,000 Americans have signed the petition. Click here to sign the petition.
The Justice Dept. is arguing that German law banning home schooling does not violate the family’s human rights.
“They are trying to send a family back to Germany where they would certainly lose custody of their children,” Farris told Fox News. “Our government is siding with Germany.”
Farris said the Germans ban home schools because “they don’t want to have religious and philosophical minorities in their country.”
“That means they don’t want to have significant numbers of people who think differently than what the government thinks,” he said. “It’s an incredibly dangerous assertion that people can’t think in a way that the government doesn’t approve of.”
He said the Justice Dept. is backing that kind of thinking and arguing ‘it is not a human rights violation.”
Farris said he finds great irony that the Obama administration is releasing thousands of illegal aliens – yet wants to send a family seeking political asylum back to Germany.
“Eleven million people are going to be allowed to stay freely – but this one family is going to be shipped back to Germany to be persecuted,” he said. “It just doesn’t make any sense.”
The fear of persecution is why an immigration judge granted the family political asylum in 2010.
German authorities demanded the family stop home schooling. They faced thousands of dollars in fines and they initially took away their children in a police van.
German state constitutions require children attend public schools. Parents who don’t comply face punishment ranging from fines to prison time. The nation’s highest appellate court ruled in 2007 that in some cases children could be removed from their parents’ care.
“Families that want to have an alternative education can’t get it in Germany,” Farris said. “Even the private schools have to teach public school curriculum.”
After authorities threatened to remove permanent custody from the Christian couple – they decided to move to the United States.
“It was a huge transition,” he said. “We had to sell all our possessions. We came here with suitcases and had to start all over.”
Uwe, a classically-trained pianist, relocated their brood to a four-acre farm in the shadow of the Smokey Mountains in eastern Tennessee. And with the help of a generous community, the family adjusted to their new home – complete with chickens, ducks and a dog named Julie.
“We are very happy here to be able to freely follow our conscience and to home school our children,” he told Fox News. “Where we live in Tennessee is very much like where we lived in Germany.”
Uwe said he was extremely disappointed that their petition to seek asylum was appealed by the Obama administration.
“If we go back to Germany we know that we would be prosecuted and it is very likely the Social Services authorities would take our children from us,” he said.
Uwe said German schools were teaching children to disrespect authority figures and used graphic words to describe sexual relations. He said the state believed children must be “socialized.”
“The German schools teach against our Christian values,” he said. “Our children know that we home school following our convictions and that we are in God’s hands. They understand that we are doing this for their best – and they love the life we are living in America on our small farm.”
Daniel said he and his siblings have adjusted to their new home — learning English and meeting other teenagers — and of course — the freedom to home school.
“I can learn a lot from my parents, much more than I could learn from school,” he said.
Daniel loves to work with wood — building sheds, and candle holders and designing contraptions. One day, he hopes to become an mechanical engineer.
But the teenager’s fate is in uncertain until the courts rule.
“I hope this is not the end of the story,” Romeike told Fox News. “If we get deported, we will certainly face fines and if we don’t pay we might have to go to jail — or worst of all — they might take custody of our children.”
Farris said Americans should be outraged over the way the Obama administration has treated the Romeike family – and warned it could have repercussions for families that home school in this nation.
“The right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children has been at the pinnacle of human rights,” he said. “But not in this country.”
With reporting from Associated Press