Note: This is an update to the ongoing Romeike case. You can learn more about the Romeikes and what happened here.

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With less than two weeks before federal authorities enforce a deadline for deportation, the Romeike family now has hope for remaining in the United States.

Congress is considering a bill, H.R. 5423, that would grant the Romeikes permanent status as legal residents, with a possible pathway to US citizenship. The measure was introduced September 12 by US Rep. Diana Harshbarger and is under review by the House Judiciary committee.

HSLDA is urging members and friends to contact their representatives to ask that they support H.R. 5423.

Contact Congress

Though the legislation is certainly welcome, it also presents new challenges for the family in their quest to find a refuge where they can homeschool in peace. 

The Romeikes’ Story

The Romeikes fled Germany in 2008 after enduring persecution for homeschooling. Parents Uwe and Hannelore Romeike faced exorbitant fines, the threat of imprisonment, and the possibility of having their children removed.

In 2014, after five years of legal battles and a growing public outcry, the US government granted the Romeikes “indefinitely deferred action status,” which allowed them to live, work, and remain in the US without fear of deportation.

That changed earlier this month, when officials at US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) told the Romeikes their deferred status had been revoked.

“It’s just shocking,” Uwe Romeike said of his family’s situation. “After 15 years living with friends and extended family here, we feel like Americans. We don’t feel we should go back to Germany because there’s nothing for us there.”

The Action Plan

Because the Romeikes’ initial attempt to be granted asylum in the US was ultimately denied, the family must seek an alternative method for gaining recognition as legal immigrants.

Rep. Harshbarger’s bill offers a chance to delay the new deportation order while Congress works toward providing this permanent remedy. But to make it work, the Romeikes need plenty of support.

Here is the process that could forestall action by immigration authorities.

The House Judiciary committee needs to formally request that the director of ICE provide a report on the Romeikes and their immigration status. While Congress reviews the report, ICE cannot proceed against the Romeikes unless the agency provides evidence that such actions are warranted.

For the bill to provide the Romeikes their much-hoped-for respite, it must be passed by the House and Senate, and then signed by President Biden. Three similar bills granting relief to individuals facing deportation were enacted by Congress and signed by the president in 2022.

“These kinds of bills come into play when the administrative process for solving specific immigration issues has been exhausted,” said Joel Grewe, executive director of HSLDA Action. “It’s a way for Congress to step in and correct an injustice. This bill can provide the Romeikes a safe harbor.”

Though precedent exists for this type of beneficial legislation, Grewe warned there is no guarantee that the bill meant to specifically aid the Romeikes will pass.

“They are going to need a lot of people on their side,” Grewe said.

What We’re Doing

HSLDA is urging members and friends to contact their representatives to ask that they support H.R. 5423.

Most importantly, we’re also encouraging lawmakers on the House Judiciary committee to request a report from ICE before October 11—the date the Romeikes have been told they must leave the country.

Deporting the Romeikes would do much more than eject them from the place they have called home for the past 15 years. It would fracture their family and bereave their friends and neighbors.

For more than a decade, Uwe Romeike has contributed to the cultural life of his eastern Tennessee community, teaching music, playing piano at church, and serving as staff accompanist at Carson-Newman University. Two of the Romeikes’ older children are now married to American citizens, and their two youngest children are American citizens by virtue of being born in the US.

“America is supposed to be a haven of freedom and opportunity,” Grewe said. “Tearing this family away from the land and the people they’ve grown to love goes against this promise. That’s why we’re asking our supporters to urge Congress and the president to honor their word and let the Romeikes stay.”

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Take Action Now
Ask your representative to support H.R. 5423
Urge the Biden administration to set this right
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