The news today is good for a family that emigrated from Germany to the United States in 2008 to escape religious persecution.
The back story in a nutshell is that the family, the Romeikes, wanted to home school their children in accordance with their faith. But home schooling is verboten in Germany and has been for a century. If they stayed in Germany and followed the doctrine of their church, they risked losing custody of their six children. So the Romeikes came here, to the land of opportunity and tolerance.
What they encountered instead was one legal obstacle after another. Finally in 2010, it appeared their struggles were over. They were granted asylum on grounds of religious freedom. But the Obama administration appealed that decision, and won. The administration even applied pressure to have the family deported back to Germany.
The Romeikes continued to fight the good fight — and continued to lose one court decision after another. ABC News reported last May:
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, however, ruled this week in favor of the Obama administration, which challenged the family’s asylum on the grounds that Germany’s ban on home-schooling did not constitute persecution and thus could not be used as a basis for political asylum in the United States.
“We are very disappointed in the decision by the Sixth Circuit to deny political asylum to the Romeike family who wants the freedom to home-school their children,” said Michael Farris, the Romeike family’s attorney and the chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association, in a statement emailed to ABC News.
“The decision of the court fails to even discuss the unchallenged evidence of Germany’s motive in banning homeschooling. The German Supreme Court says that they want to suppress religious and philosophical minorities,” the statement read.
The case was destined, it seemed, to make its way all the way to the Supreme Court. That was until Monday, when the High Court announced it would not hear their appeal.
All seemed lost — until yesterday when, inexplicably, the Department of Homeland Security announced they could stay.
The story has a happy ending, and the administration deserves credit for making the right call in the end. But the ordeal of the Romeikes also raises troubling questions. Most notable among them relates to the Obama White House’s seeming double standard on what constitutes persecution. Does the repression of religious freedom count less in the eyes of the president than denial of other fundamental human rights? It is curious also that a man who is so hell-bent on finding a path to citizenship for 11 million immigrants who are here illegally would countenance deportation hearings for eight who came through legitimate channels in the hopes of living the American dream.
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