Yesterday the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the Romeike family’s request for asylum in the United States. The Romeikes sought political asylum in the United States due to Germany’s ban on home education. They currently face criminal prosecution in Germany. They came to the United States in 2008 and were initially granted asylum by an immigration judge due to their legal situation in Germany. In 2012 the Board of Immigration Appeals overturned that decision when the Obama Administration appealed.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the Justice Department, in Romeike vs. Holder, that the freedom to homeschool not one of the fundamental rights protected for asylum seekers.
“Congress might have written the immigration laws to grant a safe haven to people living elsewhere in the world who face government strictures the United States Constitution prohibits,” the court said in its opinion. “But it did not.”
Michael Farris founder and Chair of the Home School Legal Defense Association explained why this ruling was wrong on Facebook.
The essence of their opinion is that we will not grant asylum to victims of a nation where the entire nation is subjected to the same rules.
This approach is wrong in two key ways. First, while compulsory attendance laws apply to all Germans, the German government openly says that the reason that they specifically target homeschoolers is because they want to repress religious and philosophical minorities.
Even though we repeatedly brought these statements to the Court’s attention, the opinion makes absolutely no mention of this dramatically important fact.
Second, the fact that the law is universal in character, is no excuse for a denial of human rights. The Court approved the government argument that even if prosecutions violate human rights standards, so long as the prosecution is equally administered to all, it is not a ground for asylum.
We believe this approach dramatically curtails the value of freedom and individual rights. If every member of a nation is denied freedom of speech, and are thrown in jail or have their children removed for speaking out, our nation should give such people asylum.
The same thing should be true for religious freedom and parental rights. Even a nation denies every family parental rights and religious freedom–the United States of America should provide a safe have for those who escape from such repression.
The one bright spot from the ruling is that the Court affirmed parents do have a right to direct the education and upbringing of their children.
Farris promised to appeal the ruling to the entire 6th Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court if necessary. He said, “We believe the Sixth Circuit is wrong, and we will appeal their decision. America has room for this family, and we will do everything we can to help them.”
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