German homeschooling family faces deportation orders from Biden administration after 15 years of legal residence

A German family living in the U.S. has been ordered to “self-deport” after coming here legally 15 years ago expressly to homeschool their children, reports local NBC affiliate WBIR 10…

A German family living in the U.S. has been ordered to “self-deport” after coming here legally 15 years ago expressly to homeschool their children, reports local NBC affiliate WBIR 10 News. 

Uwe Romeike, a father of seven, moved his family to Morristown, Tennessee, in 2008 after they were fined some $9,000 for homeschooling their children in Germany, which is illegal there. 

After their initial application for asylum was approved, the U.S. Department of Justice, under then-President Barack Obama, appealed the decision and the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals revoked their status. 

The family appealed that decision with help from the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). In 2013, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against them, saying the family hadn’t proven they were being persecuted by the German government because it had simply applied its existing homeschool laws without regard to the family’s religion.

“They have not shown that Germany’s enforcement of its general school-attendance law amounts to persecution against them,” Judge Jeffrey Sutton wrote in the decision for the court. 

Romeike refutes the notion, saying he homeschooled his children because of their beliefs. 

“Our oldest children were in school in the German public schools, and their personality literally changed,” he said of his family’s decision. “We wanted to help them to grow up in what they believed in, and what we believe in and not get basically indoctrinated with something we don’t want.” 

Since the 2013 ruling, the Romeikes have remained in the U.S. with the government’s knowledge, while checking in periodically with immigration officials.  

“They’re here with the approval of the U.S. government, but without permanent residency or citizenship status,” says their attorney Kevin Boden with the HSLDA. 

That all apparently changed in early September, when the family received a summons to appear before an immigration agent in two weeks. They were told to bring their German passports and prepare for deportation. 

The Romeikes, who have had two children since moving to the U.S., and two of whose children are now adults married to American citizens, now fear the worst.  

“They work here. Everything is here in America,” Romeike said of his children. “We don’t have any place to live [in Germany]. I don’t have any work to provide for my family over there.”

The Romeikes’ case seems to contradict the Biden administration’s policy stopping all deportations except in cases that present a national security, public safety or border security threat. In fact, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in favor of the Biden administration in June, striking down an effort to require the federal government to enforce current immigration laws regardless of whether the individuals involved pose such a threat.

In 2021, Biden ordered U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to stop all deportations of people who did not pose a threat due to budgetary and staffing constraints. Essentially, the federal government said it didn’t have enough manpower to deport all 11 million illegal immigrants it estimates currently live in America.

Texas and other Republican-led states filed suit against the administration, saying federal immigration law required the deportation of any individual here in the states illegally, regardless of whether they posed a threat.

After a judge temporarily blocked the administration’s policy, Biden revised it in an apparent effort to work around the judge’s order. The case eventually made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

In the Supreme Court’s decision, written by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, it said there was no precedent for the states to demand the federal government change its law enforcement policies, or in this case, the lack of enforcement. 

“The States have not cited any precedent, history, or tradition of courts ordering the Executive Branch to change its arrest or prosecution policies so that the Executive Branch makes more arrests or initiates more prosecutions,” Kavanaugh wrote.

There has been no mention of whether the immigration agents involved in the Romeike case have claimed the family represents any sort of threat to national security or public safety.  

The family’s attorney vows he and others with HSLDA will continue their fight to help the Romeikes remain in their home in Tennessee.