A German couple who fled to Tennessee so they could homeschool their children was granted political asylum yesterday by a U.S. immigration judge.
The best part of their new homebase: Only a short car ride to DOLLYWOOD!
The decision clears the way for Uwe Romeike (roh-MY-kee), his wife and five children to stay in Morristown, Tenn., where they have been living since 2008. Romeike says his family was persecuted for their evangelical Christian beliefs and for homeschooling their children in Germany, where school attendance is mandatory. (I bet Ali Lohan is relieved she doesn’t live there.)
When the Romeikes wouldn’t comply with repeated orders to send the children to school, police came to their home one October morning in 2006 and took the children to school. German state constitutions require children to attend public or private schools and parents can face fines or prison time if they don’t comply. As Romeike did: the couple was fined the equivalent of about $10,000 over a two-year period.
“We didn’t pay it all because we couldn’t,” he said. “We went to court and tried to fight against it, without success.”
The U.S. government can appeal the asylum ruling. A spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement declined to comment in an e-mail.
Romeike said in an interview that when his oldest children were in public schools they had problems with violence, bullying and peer pressure.
“I think it’s important for parents to have the freedom to chose the way their children can be taught,” Romeike said.
Yeah, I suppose. But to willingly leave a country where — be still, my beating heart — beer and soft pretzels are considered a perfectly good breakfast…? I can’t imagine ANYTHING trumping that.