The world is watching as Edwin Snowden seeks to avoid deportation to the United States where he fears he will face persecution for his leaks about the government’s surveillance program. Meanwhile, the Romeike family hopes the court will grant them asylum, allowing them to stay in the United States. The Romeike’s claim they will be persecuted should they return to Germany, a country that has banned home schooling and sanctions those who partake in that alternative education system with fines and sometimes loss of custody of the home- schooled children. While in Germany, the family has already been persecuted and received fines for their educational practices.
In their native country, the family insisted on schooling their children at home because they didn’t agree with some of the subject matter in the German curriculum. Due to their Christian faith, they felt obligated to educate their children with a scheme aligned with their religious values. That desire is a right that Americans are encouraged to exercise freely. For that reason, the family was granted political asylum in 2012 based on being “members of a particular social group” that faced persecution because of religious beliefs. As quickly as this relief was granted, the federal government appealed the decision. In 2012, the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) overturned the decision that had granted the Romeike’s political asylum, and ordered their removal to Germany.
In May of this year, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision on the matter mirrored that of the BIA. That appeals court subsequently refused to re-hear the case, distinguishing between “the persecution of a discrete group and the prosecution of those who violate a generally applicable law.” However, the family’s defense counsel maintains that the court has overlooked that a key goal of this German law is to suppress religious minorities, and that parents have a fundamental right to choose an alternative to public schooling. The Romeike family is now willing to take the case to the United States Supreme Court.