A day after after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear their case, sentencing them to almost certain deportation, the Romeike family has received a reprieve.
The Home School Legal Defense Association confirmed today that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has granted the German homeschooling family “indefinite deferred status,” allowing them to remain in the United States as long as they want.
“This is an incredible victory that can only be credited to our Almighty God,” Michael Farris, the HSLDA attorney representing the family, wrote on the group’s Facebook page. “We also want to thank those of [you] who spoke up on this issue—including that long ago White House petition. We believe that the public outcry made this possible while God delivered the victory.”
Farris told me he had no idea this was a possibility for the Romeike family. The government’s call came completely out of the blue. An immigration specialist told Farris this kind of thing happens just a few times every five years or so, making it rare but not completely without precedent.
The Romeikes fled Germany in 2008, where they faced fines and the possibility of having their children removed from their home because they didn’t send them to state-run or state-sanctioned schools. The Romeikes are Christians and believed the secular schools would be a bad influence on their seven children. An immigration judge in the United States initially granted them asylum, but federal courts ruled the German ban on homeschooling did not amount to persecution because it applies to all citizens equally. As is custom, the Supreme Court did not give any reason for declining to hear the case.
The Obama administration fought the family’s appeal every step of the way, making today’s news even more surprising. Farris told me he thought the government wanted to drive home the point that asylum under these circumstances is not a right but a privilege.