Dozens of Lawmakers Urge Biden Admin Not to Deport Homeschooling Family
Updated: 10/09/2023 08:25 AM EDT
**Editor's note: On Friday, HSLDA announced that the Romeike family has been given a one-year stay on the order for their deportation. “According to our friends on Capitol Hill, this outcome is the direct result of your calls, your petition signature, and your outreach to Congress on this issue.”
As the deadline for the deportation of a Christian family from Germany draws near, dozens of state and federal lawmakers and tens of thousands of citizens are urging the Biden administration to reverse course and allow the family, who has sought asylum in the U.S. in order to homeschool their children according to their religious beliefs, to stay in America.
In 2008, Uwe and Hannelore Romeike fled Germany with their children because of an anti-homeschooling law that fined the family $9,000 and could have removed their children from their home. On two occasions in October 2006, armed German police entered the family’s home in order to force their children to attend public school, in one instance successfully. After the family immigrated to the U.S. and settled in Morristown, Tenn., a judge approved their asylum application in 2010. The Obama administration fought the decision, but after public pressure, the Romeikes were eventually allowed to stay in the U.S. permanently as recipients of deferred action status.
But that all changed on September 6, as described by Kevin Boden, the director of Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) International, who is representing the Romeike family.
“We don’t know exactly why or how it unfolded,” he explained on “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins” last week. “What we do know is that they came in for their routine ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] check, which has been fairly normal for them over the last 10 years. And instead of being told to come back for another routine check, they were told to come back in four weeks and bring your passports and to look to start the process of self-deportation.”
As Uwe Romeike went on to recount, his family has been leading a normal life in Tennessee for the last 15 years, so it remains unclear why their status has changed.
“We were able to settle here and get involved in the community and church,” he told Perkins. “I’m working as a piano accompanist at a local Christian university and as a church pianist, and I have a private piano studio. My oldest children who finished school, they have their jobs. And my oldest son is a pilot and an airplane mechanic. So we are all basically living our lives as everyone else around us, living a normal life. We feel like being American now, and now we are forced to leave the country.”
State and congressional lawmakers are now speaking out on behalf of the Romeikes. Last week, a group of 45 bipartisan Tennessee State House members sent a letter to ICE Deputy Director Patrick J. Lechleitner urging him to reconsider the case. “We are asking you and your office to give this family a chance to continue building their lives in Tennessee,” the wrote. “It is our understanding a court has ruled they are allowed to stay indefinitely, as long as they fulfill their obligation of checking in as ordered by ICE. To our knowledge they have been faithful in doing so. To uproot this family who has been contributing to our city, county and state in many ways seems unduly cruel and unnecessary. As time is of the essence, we ask that a review of their circumstances be made and at least give this family more time.”
In addition, Rep. Diana Harshbarger (R-Tenn.) introduced a bill on September 12 that “would grant the Romeikes permanent status as legal residents, with a possible pathway to citizenship.” The bill is currently being reviewed by the House Judiciary Committee.
Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) is also advocating on behalf of the family. In a candid letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas last week, she pointed to “two standards of justice” being imposed on immigrants. “As millions of illegal immigrants flood across our southern border and disappear into our country, your immigration authorities have chosen to punish a family who has built their lives in Tennessee within the legal parameters of our immigration system,” she wrote.
As the deadline of October 11 for the Romeike’s deportation nears, Uwe expressed gratitude for the prayers of the nation and asked for the public to sign a petition on his family’s behalf.
“We thank everyone who is praying for our family, for God to intervene,” he said. “HSLDA put up a website with a link to a petition where you can help us … at hslda.org/romeike.” So far, over 102,000 supporters have signed it.
Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.