US rejects home-schooling asylum plea

2013-05-16 12:00
Hannelore Romeike, hugs one of her daughters, Damaris, 7, as she stands with her husband Uwe Romeike, right. (File, AP)

Hannelore Romeike, hugs one of her daughters, Damaris, 7, as she stands with her husband Uwe Romeike, right. (File, AP)

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Washington - An appeals court on Wednesday denied asylum to a Christian German couple hoping to home-school their children in the United States.

Uwe and Hannelore Romeike fled Germany with their five children in 2008, after taking them out of school there on religious grounds, but in violation of German law.

Uwe Romeike has said his children's German school textbooks contained language and ideas that conflicted with his family's values.

The family settled in Tennessee and applied for asylum. Their application claimed they were persecuted for their evangelical Christian beliefs and for attempting to home-school their children, which is legal in the US.

In 2010 a US court granted them asylum, but the Justice Department later revoked the ruling.

In the ruling issued on Wednesday, the US Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio, said the family was not eligible for asylum because they were not singled out for persecution.

Immigration laws were not written to grant safe havens to people who face government strictures in their home country that are prevented by the United States Constitution, the court said.

"The relevant legislation applies only to those who have a 'well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion,'" the ruling said.

The German authorities "have not singled out the Romeikes in particular or home-schoolers in general for persecution", it said.

Home-schooling is common in the US. In 2007 the number of home-schooled students was about 1.5 million, an increase from 850 000 in 1999 and 1.1 million in 2003, according to the National Centre for Education Statistics.

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