German family in tug-of-war to homeschool children in US

The Romeike family from Germany believe they are being persecuted for their Christian beliefs.

Defenders of Christian homeschooling parents say attempts by the German and U.S. governments to deny their immigration to the United States so they can teach their children at home is a violation of their human rights.

Germans Uwe and Hannelore Romeike decided to homeschool their five children while living in their homeland.

They wanted to teach content more in line with their evangelical Christian beliefs.

When they encountered resistance from German authorities, the Romeikes left Germany for the United States in 2008.

They stated that they were being persecuted for their Christian values and asked the U.S. for asylum.

Initially a U.S judge granted the family's request to stay.

The German government has asked, however, that the family be returned to Germany so the children can be placed in their schools.

The administration of President Barack Obama took an interest in the case and appealed the initial ruling. The U.S. Department of Justice asked that the family be deported.

The administration received a favorable ruling, which the Romeikes have since appealed.

This appeal will be heard in court in April and they remain in the U.S. pending its outcome.

The Romeike's move to the U.S. has been assisted by the Home School Legal Defense Association, based in Virginia.

The organization is representing the family legally.

Last week its chairman Michael Farris told Fox News, "I believe that the religious freedom claims this family is making should be granted. The Obama administration's view is that individual liberty is not a valid basis for a political asylum claim."

Farris said he is puzzled by the opposition of the U.S. government to the Romeike's request for asylum given the current administration's efforts on behalf of America's 11 million illegal immigrants.

"I don't get why they want to deport this one German family", he said. "It just doesn't make any sense."

Also lobbying on behalf of the Romeike's is author and commentator Dick Morris, a former campaign manager and consultant for former president Bill Clinton. He is circulating a petition urging the U.S. government to drop its case.

Morris said HSLDA cites international agreements in their defense of the Romeikes.

"They argue that the right to homeschool is a decision of conscience protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights," noted Morris.

Juhani Paavolainen, the chairman of the Finnish Home Educator's Association, notes that in most human rights declarations there is a connection between home education and philosophical and religious convictions.

"In Europe the governments are specifically afraid of that", he said.

Paavolainen said the issue of home education has broader implication than just the right to teach children at home.

"My opinion is that if liberty of conscience is threatened, that is more alarming than restricting home education," he said,

Germany is the only country in Europe that bans homeschooling outright.

The government in Germany took action against the Romeikes when they did not respond to entreaties to put their children into public schools.

Authorities removed the children from their home for a time.

In addition, the Romeikes were heavily fined. When their legal attempts to pursue homeschooling in Germany failed, they decided to move to the United States.

Homeschooling is legal in the U.S. and has more acceptance than in Germany.

Some experts say the latter fears efforts such as homeschooling because it could create the development of a "parallel society" that does not share the vision of the German state.

On the other hand, some two million children are homeschooled in the United States.

The homeschooling movement is growing in the U.S. at a yearly rate of eight percent.

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