An immigration judge in Memphis, TN recently granted asylum to the Romeike family from Germany. This news was welcomed by immigration lawyers as asylum applicants must usually prove that their lives would actually be in jeopardy if forced to return to their home country. This family’s asylum claim was based on the government of Germany’s refusal to allow the kids to be homeschooled.Very few people from Western Europe are granted asylum in the US given the relatively non-repressive governments there; few immigration lawyers can claim success in asylum applications from the Western World.

Unlike in the United States, German parents (as well as parents in most European countries) are not permitted to homeschool children. The Romeike family are Evangelical Christians who object to both the curriculum taught in public schools in Germany, as well as the social influences exerted on the children by their peers.  The Romeike family had previously been fined $10,000 for refusing to send the kids to school.

A recent Supreme Court decision in Germany made homeschooling an offense that could result in a loss of custody of the children.  The Romeike family, from Baden-Wurttemberg, was contacted by the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) in Virginia which suggested that they relocate to the US. The father, a concert pianist, sold his Steinway to pay for the move and the family settled n Morristown, TN.

Immigration lawyers working for the US government have already appealed the novel decision, fearing that the ruling will encourage more asylum claims based on a country’s refusal to allow homeschooling.