WBIR: For 15 years, the Romeike family has lived in Morristown. Uwe Romeike, the father of the seven Romeike children, works as a piano accompanist at Carson-Newman University. Now, they say, the U.S. government is trying to deport them.
The family moved to the U.S. from Germany in 2008. Their application for asylum said they were fined by the German government roughly $9,000 after homeschooling their children, court documents show.
An immigration judge initially granted the family’s application for asylum. The U.S. Department of Justice appealed the decision, and the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals revoked the family’s asylum status, documents show.
The family, with the help of the U.S. Home School Defense Association, appealed to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. A three-judge panel unanimously ruled against the family.
“They have not shown that Germany’s enforcement of its general school-attendance law amounts to persecution against them,” Judge Jeffrey Sutton wrote for the court.
Judge Sutton said in his ruling the Romeikes didn’t prove the German Government persecuted them for their religion, because they applied the homeschooling law regardless of religion. Since the sixth circuit ruling in 2013, the Romeikes have lived in the U.S., checking in periodically with immigration agents.
“They’re here with the approval of the U.S. government, but without permanent residency or citizenship status,” said Kevin Boden, an attorney with the U.S. Home School Defense Association. Romeike said two weeks ago, an immigration agent asked his family to return in four weeks, with German passports, and to prepare to self-deport.
“Our oldest children were in school in the German public schools, and their personality literally changed,” Romeike said. “We wanted to help them to grow up in what they believed in, and what we believe in and not get basically indoctrinated with something we don’t want.”
Romeike said since he and his wife moved to the U.S., they’ve had two more children and two of their adult children are married to U.S. Citizens.
“They work here. Everything is here in America,” Romeike said. “We don’t have any place to live there. I don’t have any work to provide for my family over there.”
Boden said attorneys are working to make sure the Romeike family can stay in the U.S.