Federal officials announced last week that they will allow the Romeike family to stay in America. The decision came after Department of Justice lawyers argued that Germany’s mistreatment of homeschoolers like the Romeikes is perfectly reasonable. Read more about the Romeike family.
by Michael Farris
HSLDA Founder and Chairman
Other than the Romeike family themselves, no one could have been more thrilled than me with the sudden reversal from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) which allowed them to remain in the United States. Just one day after the Supreme Court refused to review the court order that demanded their deportation to Germany, the Romeikes were informed by DHS that they could remain indefinitely in the United States where they can continue to homeschool their children.
The DHS notification came to attorney Will Humble, who was the immigration lawyer assisting the Romeikes and HSLDA at all phases of these proceedings. Humble was lead counsel before the administrative judge, and I was lead counsel before the federal courts.
This administrative victory needs to be understood for what it is. It is a victory for the Romeike family alone. No other German homeschooling family can benefit from the administrative grace that was shown in this one instance.
Despite this welcome relief for this one courageous family, the damage done to our laws on asylum and the principles of religious and parental freedom remains.
We cannot slip into complacency and believe that all is well on all fronts. The dangers latent in this case must be understood, combatted, and reversed.
Some court decisions contain language that presents a self-evident danger to liberty. Other times the dangers are much more subtle. For example, in Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States (1935), the Court held that Congress could not regulate commerce once goods had come to rest within a state. It could only regulate commerce while in transit and—with words that launched a thousand regulations—those things that “directly affect” commerce. The “effects test” has been used by Congress, the Supreme Court, and the executive branch to impose countless regulations on all manner of activity that would otherwise be outside of federal jurisdiction.
The dangers to liberty that are embedded in the Romeike case are equally subtle. One has to take a closer look at the facts in the record, the arguments of the Obama Justice Department, and the decision of the Sixth Circuit to fully appreciate the very dangerous ideas that were embraced in this case.
Burden of Proof
As with any asylum case, the Romeikes needed to prove two basic propositions to be entitled to asylum. They had to prove that they faced either past or future persecution and that this persecution was motivated, at least in part, on one of the grounds contained in our asylum statute. Religious persecution is one of these recognized grounds for asylum.
Thus, the case boiled down to two particular questions:
1. Was the punishment that the Romeikes would face upon deportation back to Germany sufficiently severe to count as persecution?
2. Was the motive of the German government marked, at least in part, by a desire to repress the family’s exercise of their religious beliefs?
On one level, the first question was not seriously debated. All parties agreed that if the family returned to Germany and continued to homeschool, they would face the threat of losing custody of their children.
Our government was not so callous as to suggest that losing one’s children would not be a severe punishment. However, the government and Sixth Circuit contended that it would not be persecution, because the family could just stop homeschooling and send their children to public schools in order to avoid the punishment.
In this context, the controlling legal rule is that persecution is proven when a government acts against a person either for an immutable characteristic or for a reason that one should not be required to change.
Our government contended that forcing a parent to have their children attend a school that violates their religious beliefs does not offend a conviction that one should not be required to change.
Read the Dangerous Conclusion here…
From the Smiths:
Updated 2 February 2013: One year on (Craig Smith’s Health) page 7 click here
Needing help for your home schooling journey:
Here are a couple of links to get you started home schooling:
Information on getting started: http://hef.org.nz/getting-started-2/
Information on getting an exemption: http://hef.org.nz/exemptions/
This link is motivational: http://hef.org.nz/2012/home-schooling-what-is-it-all-about/
Exemption Form online: http://hef.org.nz/2012/home-schooling-exemption-form-now-online/