ADF International


Romeike v. Holder

Date of most recent action: 04 Apr 2014

German family seek asylum in US after being threatened with imprisonment for homeschooling their five children

What’s at Stake

  • The right of parents to freely educate their children at home
  • The right to live out one’s faith in all aspects of life
  • The right to asylum from religious persecution


In 2006, Uwe and Hannelore Romeike decided to homeschool their five children and so removed them from state schools. Under strict German law, dating back to 1918, homeschooling is not permitted. German authorities fined the Romeikes several times and threatened them with imprisonment and loss of custody of their children. After two years of legal threats, the Christian family fled to the US to seek political asylum.

A US immigration judge granted the family asylum in 2010, calling Germany’s policy on homeschooling “odd,” “silly,” and “utterly repellent to everything we believe as Americans.” But just two years later,  the Obama administration appealed the decision and the appeal court overturned the judge’s original ruling.

Uwe and Hannelore are understandably worried about being sent back to Germany. This would mean more fines and potentially, if they cannot afford to pay the fines, imprisonment. But the most frightening prospect is the possibility of losing custody of their children – simply for homeschooling.

The Romeikes fear of persecution is well-founded – Alliance Defending Freedom represents a number of families in Germany where children have been removed and parents have been imprisoned. While Uwe agrees that there is a fair amount of religious freedom in Germany, he says that this does not extend to homeschooling. He believes that: “Germany wants to impose its worldview on children and does not want parents to form their children according to their own worldview – as it might be different to that of the German state.”

Alliance Defending Freedom and Schulunterricht zu Hause, a legal support group for German homeschooling families, submitted legal arguments with the US Supreme Court. The submission asked the court to reinstate asylum for this persecuted German family.

“Parents have the freedom and authority to make decisions regarding their own children’s education without undue government interference,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Chief Counsel Benjamin Bull. “The immigration court clearly recognized that the German policy of persecuting homeschooling families violates basic human rights. The Supreme Court should uphold that decision, reverse the 6th Circuit ruling, and allow the Romeikes to remain in the US rather than face certain punishment in Germany simply for homeschooling their children.”

The US Supreme Court denied the petition to hear this case, but ADF International continues to defend the rights of parents to educate their children in the manner of their choosing.

Our Role in the Case

Alliance Defending Freedom has submitted legal arguments to the US Supreme Court, petitioning the court to reinstate asylum for this persecuted German family.

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Faith-based legal advocacy organization that protects fundamental freedoms and promotes the inherent dignity of all people.