Christian Homeschooling Family Granted One-Year Reprieve from Deportation

The Christian Romeike family homeschools in Morristown, Tennessee.

A German Christian family living in Morristown, Tennessee, for more than a decade, has been granted a 1-year stay of removal as lawmakers fight to keep the family in the country.

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Last week, in a startling turn of events, the Romeike family, German nationals who have called Morristown, Tennessee, home for over a decade, found themselves on the brink of deportation with less than two weeks to secure their stay in the United States.

The family, known for their legal struggles in Germany due to their decision to homeschool their children, are now pinning their hopes on a bill currently under consideration by Congress.

The Romeikes, parents Uwe and Hannelore, and their five children fled Germany in 2008 after facing severe penalties, including hefty fines and threats of imprisonment and child removal, due to their homeschooling practices.

Germany’s stringent laws permit homeschooling only in extremely limited circumstances, which did not align with Romeike’s religious convictions and beliefs.

Upon their arrival in the U.S., the family sought asylum and, after a tumultuous five-year legal battle and significant public support, were granted “indefinite deferred action status” in 2014.

This status allowed them to live and work in the U.S. without the looming threat of deportation, providing them with stability and security.

However, the tranquility was shattered earlier this month when U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials informed the Romeikes that their deferred status had been revoked, with no detailed explanation provided other than a vague reference to a “change of orders.”

The family was blindsided by the announcement during what was expected to be a routine check-in and were given a mere four weeks to apply for German passports in preparation for a potential deportation.

Uwe Romeike expressed his family’s dismay and shock: “After 15 years living with friends and extended family here, we feel like Americans. We don’t feel we should go back to Germany because there’s nothing for us there.”

In the intervening years since they arrived in the U.S., the Romeikes have woven themselves into the fabric of their community, with two of their children marrying American citizens and two more being born on American soil, thereby granting them U.S. citizenship.

A forced return to Germany would splinter their family and expose them again to the persecution they fled nearly 15 years ago.

Amidst the turmoil, a glimmer of hope emerges in the form of H.R. 5423, a bill introduced on September 12 by U.S. Rep. Diana Harshbarger, currently under review by the House Judiciary Committee. If passed, the legislation would grant the Romeike family permanent legal resident status and potentially pave the way toward U.S. citizenship.

The Home School Legal Defense Administration (HSLDA), an organization that has supported the Romeikes throughout their ordeal, is rallying support for the bill and urging citizens to contact their representatives to advocate for the family’s right to remain in the country.

As the clock ticks down to the deportation deadline, the Romeike family, their supporters, and communities nationwide await with bated breath, hoping for a legislative intervention that will allow them to remain in the country they have come to call home.

Until then, the United States executive branch holds the power to alter the family’s fate once again as the nation watches on.

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