Are the Romeikes in the United States legally?
Yes! The Romeikes entered the United States legally in August 2008 and have continued to live here legally for the last 15 years.
In 2008, the Romeikes applied for asylum lawfully during the 90-day period that they were in the United States on a visa.
Under US law, the Romeikes were allowed to remain here while their asylum application was pending, apply for work permits, and live their regular life.
In January 2010, they were granted asylum by Judge Lawrence O. Burman.
Two years later, in May 2012, their asylum was overturned by the US Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). After another two years of legal battles to reinstate their asylum, the US government finally granted the Romeikes indefinite deferred status in March 2014.
This meant that the Romeikes could live legally in the US, obtain drivers’ licenses, work, rent, own property, and pay taxes. They have been operating legally under this status for 10 years. However, in September 2023, they were verbally notified (without warning) that they had four weeks to secure passports and begin self-deportation.
Why haven’t they applied for citizenship?
Because, for the past 10 years, the Romeikes did not have the option to apply for citizenship.
Immigrants to the United States can only pursue a single pathway to citizenship (asylum, naturalized citizenship, green card, etc.). An immigrant cannot begin on one pathway and switch later.
Because the Romeikes applied for asylum (and were granted it in 2010, before it was overturned), it was the only pathway available to them, at least until one of their adult children becomes a citizen and can sponsor them. We've been actively working towards that option, but it's a long process that will not be available to the family for several more years.
Though their asylum status was never reinstated, and they have not been able to pursue citizenship, they have been living legally under indefinite deferred status since 2014.
H.R. 5423, which is currently being considered by Congress, is a private bill that would give the entire family lawful permanent residency status and a pathway towards future citizenship. Please contact your representative to encourage their support of H.R. 5423.
How does “homeschooling” qualify a family for asylum?
The Romeikes faced exorbitant and increasing fines, possible jail time, and the potential loss of their children if they continued to homeschool in Germany. The German police even entered the Romeikes’ home and forced their children to attend compulsory public school for part of a day in 2006.
As Immigration Judge Lawrence O. Burman wrote when he granted the family asylum in 2010, “Homeschoolers are a particular social group that the German government is trying to suppress. This family has a well-founded fear of persecution… therefore, they are eligible for asylum… and the court will grant asylum.” You can read the family’s argument for asylum and the judge’s full decision here.
Why are they getting deported now?
There is no good reason why the Romeikes are being deported now.
According to DHS guidelines, the Romeikes should not be subject to a change in status unless they do something wrong, like commit a crime, which simply has not been the case.
Under indefinite deferred status (which they received in 2014), they were permitted to live in the US, obtain drivers’ licenses, work, rent, own property, and pay taxes. They have been operating under this status lawfully for almost 10 years.
For no apparent reason, after almost a decade, their immigration agent suddenly ordered them to make preparations to leave the country.
Why is HSLDA involved with this case?
HSLDA cares about homeschooling—at home in the US and around the world.
We’ve done this by providing resources and encouragement to homeschoolers in other countries, as well as advising in-country leaders who want to find legislative strategies to make homeschooling legal in their nation.
And when individual families have faced hardship and persecution for homeschooling, HSLDA has been there to help and encourage in whatever way we can. This includes the Romeikes.
We have actively support legal cases in Kenya, Cuba, Brazil, Sweden, France, Germany, and others. We recognize the blessing of the freedom to homeschool in the United States, and we desire to make homeschooling legal and possible around the world.
Why didn’t the Romeikes move to another European country?
In 2008, when the Romeikes were faced with the incredibly difficulty decision of leaving their homeland, friends, and family behind, the United States offered the greatest hope of homeschooling in freedom and peace.
Homeschooling is a growing social movement in the US and is legal in every state. The homeschool laws in Europe were (and continue to be) less friendly.
Can petitioning the White House and Congress make a difference?
We acknowledge that the government can be opaque at times. However, in 2014, while the Romeikes’ case was on appeal before the US Supreme Court, we were also petitioning the Obama administration to grant the family asylum. The White House petition gathered 127,258 signatures—a significant number.
The day after the Supreme Court declined to hear the Romeikes’ case, the Obama administration responded by granting them indefinite deferred status.
So, we believe it can make a difference. Will you help? Sign the petition today.
Where can I find information about the history of this case?
You can read the Romeike History and Timeline for more information about the Romeike case.
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