After spending the last 15 years in the U.S. legally, a Christian family from Germany may have to uproot their lives.
During a routine check-in on Sept. 6, Uwe and Hannelore Romeike’s local Immigration and Customs Enforcement office told the family they need to gather their passports and self-deport within four weeks.
In 2008, the Romeikes fled to the U.S. to homeschool their family after being fined $9,000 for illegally attempting to educate their five children in their German home. The family settled down on a four-acre farm in eastern Tennessee.
Two years prior, the couple had enrolled their children in the German public school system, where they were indoctrinated with “anti-Christian” teachings, including endorsing abortion and homosexuality.
Because the couple noticed a negative change in their kids’ personality and didn’t want their children to be influenced by a secular culture, they decided to break a Nazi-era homeschool law, which was enacted by Adolf Hitler to purportedly create national unity.
Twice in October 2006, armed German police tried to take the Romeike’s children from their home and force them to go to public school. With accumulating fines, the German government ultimately could have taken the children out of their household at any time.
After the family was granted asylum by a U.S. immigration judge in 2010, the Obama administration argued that Germany’s homeschool ban did not amount to persecution. The Justice Department contended in a legal brief that, “Teaching tolerance to children of all backgrounds helps to develop the ability to interact as a fully functioning citizen in Germany.”
Following years of legal battles, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security granted the family an indefinite deferred action status in September 2014.
If the Romeikes are forced to return to Germany but continue homeschooling, they will again face legal fines, possible jail time, and could lose custody of their kids.
“The persecution there is very real today, as it was 15 years ago,” said Keven Boden, the Romeikes’ attorney.
“The Romeike family should be able to stay in the United States and home educate their children,” said Jim Mason, president of the Home School Legal Defense Association. “America is a land of freedom and opportunity, and there are few freedoms or opportunities more important than the ability of parents to safely direct the education of their own children, without fear of punishment or persecution.”
Since arriving in the U.S., the Romeikes have had two more daughters. The two oldest Romeike children are also now adults married to U.S. citizens. The deportation could potentially separate the family of nine—and have other consequences.
“[My family members] work here. Everything is here in America,” Uwe Romeike told WBIR News. “We don’t have any place to live there. I don’t have any work to provide for my family over there.”
In August, the Biden administration broke records by allowing over 260,000 migrants to cross the Southern border, and another 30,000 immigrants flew into U.S. airports from their homeland. This does not include another 50,000 migrants who illegally crossed the border. Yet, the Romeikes face deportation orders.
“Are we really living in a country with a border open to terrorists and drug cartels but that deports entire families who follow the rules to seek asylum on a claim of religious freedom?” Meg Kilgannon of Family Research Council asked The Washington Stand.
Photo: Courtesy of Romeike family