If ever there was evidence of the upside down world of our immigration system, it would be the story of the Romeike family from Germany. Uwe and Hannelore Romeike are Christians and because of their Christian beliefs, they decided to home school their children, even though German law does not grant them that right. They felt it important enough that they defied that law and were facing increasingly higher fines and the possibility of losing custody of their children. Because of their strong belief that they should be able to educate their children themselves, they moved to Morristown, TN in 2008. It should be noted that they did so legally and asked for political asylum. They were granted asylum in 2010 by an immigration judge, a decision that was overturned in 2012 by the Board of Immigration Appeals.
It is also important to note that the Obama administration may not be at fault here, specifically. By that, I mean that the people making the decision to appeal the original decision that granted the Romeike family political asylum are likely career lawyers inside the immigration enforcement system. So, while it is true that the Obama administration did appeal the decision, technically, it was probably not at the direction of the White House. In the interest of fairness, we should remember the vast government bureaucracy that makes up so much of the federal government.
Before writing this post, I performed a fair amount of research on the background of the case. As it turns out, the reasons the decision was appealed and reversed are fairly straightforward. Technically, the Romeike family may not meet the legal definition of having been persecuted for religious reasons. I can understand that as a nation of laws, our legal system should be followed. Our system of immigration laws have certain legal guidelines for granting political asylum on the grounds of religious persecution and from what I can tell, those guidelines were not necessarily met. Having said that, I have one giant question that is just begging to be asked.
If the Romeike family does not meet the legal guidelines, can an exemption not be granted so they can be allowed to stay in the United States? Yes, I know our immigration laws are in place for a reason, but has that stopped the Obama administration from granting exemptions, heretofore? The short answer is no, it has not. I know President Obama can not intervene in each individual immigration case, but he did intervene in the enforcement of these same immigration laws and ordered the departments charged with enforcing the relevant immigration laws to stop deporting certain groups of immigrants. Specifically, he said it was not the fault of the DREAM immigrants that they were brought to America, that they broke no laws by coming. Therefore, he has granted them the right to ask for legal status.
Here is the million dollar question. If President Obama has granted exemptions to the aforementioned DREAM immigrants, why not grant the Romeike family the same opportunity? Would that be too much to ask for a family who came to America legally, followed the proper legal procedures, all for the freedom to teach their children as they saw fit?
As of today, the United States Supreme Court has denied the Romeike family the chance to be heard at America’s highest court. I do not know exactly where the case will proceed from here, but it would seem their fight in our legal system has ran its course. That could mean the family will soon be deported back to Germany, facing fines and the possibility of losing their children to the state. That would be a tragedy.
America was founded on several ideals. One of those is that every individual should have freedom of religion. Part of why the Romeike family wants to home school their children is for religious reasons. It seems to me, according to the foundations of America, they should be granted that opportunity. It remains to be seen if the Obama administration will grant them the same chance they have given immigrants who have came to America illegally.