The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has been representing families such as the Romeikes, who fled Germany in 2008 after being threatened with fines and jail time for homeschooling their seven children.
“After more than two years of court decisions that did not go in their favor, the Romeikes were granted deferred legal status by the Department of Homeland Security [in 2010],” HSLDA’s website states. “U.S. immigration judge Lawrence Burman granted the family asylum, saying that the German policy against homeschooling was ‘repugnant to everything we believe as Americans.’ Burman found that the family had a legitimate fear of persecution because of homeschooling, and said that the United States should ‘be a refuge’ for the family.”
HSLDA developed the Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act of 2015 in response to the Romeike case.
“The Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act of 2017—H.R. 391—successfully passed through the House Judiciary Committee this summer [July 2017], and it could come up for vote at any time,” an HSLDA press release announced in October 2017. “[The bill] includes a measure that would allow a small number of foreign homeschooling families to receive asylum each year if threatened by their government over their decision to homeschool.”
‘Respect the Rights of Parents’
Will Estrada, director of federal government relations at HSLDA, says although HR 391 is a very broad bill covering several immigration reform issues, HSLDA is happy to see homeschooling addressed.
“We are very pleased the language was included, and we’re calling for the whole House to vote on the bill or for leadership to put this part into another bill if necessary,” Estrada said.
The language to which Estrada refers is included in Section 21 of H.R. 391. This section of the bill would grant asylum to up to 500 families persecuted for homeschooling.
“On the whole issue of immigration, we can all agree that people who are facing persecution of their religious beliefs or how to educate their children understand that freedom isn’t free, and that’s why they want to come to our country,” Estrada said. “This immigration bill would respect the right of parents.”
Jenni White ([email protected]) writes from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.