Uwe Romeike and his wife Hannah moved their seven children to the U.S. in 2008 to avoid religious persecution in their native land, where the parents had pulled their children from public schools to teach them at home. That decision broke German law, however, and the family eventually gave in.
“They were fined heavily. Armed police came to their home to take their kids to school. They did actually force them to go to school,” Kevin Boden, an attorney with the Home School Legal Defense Association, said on American Family Radio Thursday.
After moving to the United States the family settled in Morristown, Tennessee. Uwe Romeike now works as a piano accompanist at Carson-Newman University, a private Baptist-affiliated school in nearby Jefferson City.
In 2013, the family learned their asylum request had been denied. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the Romeikes had not sufficiently proven that school-attendance laws in Germany amounted to persecution against them.
Germany applied its home school law regardless of religion, Judge Jeffrey Sutton wrote for the court.
A compromise, approved by the Obama administration, granted the family indefinite deferred action status.
“That allowed them to live, work and remain here safely without fear of deportation,” Boden told show host Jenna Ellis.
It also required the family to meet with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials every six or 12 months. Usually that meeting was a formality and their status was acknowledged, but that changed on their last visit. The family was told to apply for German passports, return to their ICE office in four weeks, and prepare for self-deportation.
“The only word we got was that there was a quote 'change in orders.' Where that came from we really don’t know at this point,” Boden said.
The HSLDA is now working to find a way for the Romeikes to remain in the U.S.
“We're working with an immigration attorney, that we've worked with for many years now, on their case on the specifics of the immigration policy. We’re working on what legal avenues we have from that angle,” Boden said.
Boden said legislative options are possible but there’s no real movement on that front at this time.
“We’re continuing to pursue all angles to help this family,” Boden said.