A Christian family of nine who fled persecution in Germany and moved to the United States in 2008 was stunned when immigration agents told it to prepare for deportation after 15 years of life in America, but remains hopeful that “God will make a way” for them to remain in the country they have come to love.
In a phone interview with The Daily Wire on Wednesday, Uwe Romeike said he and his family, who settled in a small town in Tennessee, were caught off guard when they were told to come in for a meeting with an immigration agent after they just had their annual check-in a few months ago. During that check-in earlier this month, Uwe, his wife Hannelore, and their five oldest children were told to prepare to self-deport, and return in four weeks with their German passports.
“This came as a surprise. We did not expect anything like this,” Uwe said, adding that the feds have not given them any explanation for the sudden move to deport him and his family. But Uwe, a piano accompanist at Carson-Newman University, said he is trusting God with what happens next.
“We still trust God to make a way for us to stay here. I know it’s kind of impossible, but that’s where we know God can still do the impossible,” Uwe said, adding that if they are forced to go back to Germany, they will face the same type of persecution they fled as they continue to homeschool their two youngest children, such as being fined around $300 a day.
The attorney representing the Romeikes, Kevin Boden of the Home School Legal Defense Association, told The Daily Wire that it appears Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) received new orders on handling the Romeikes, but said it’s unclear where the “change of orders” came from.
“It’s tough to know — is it a new official who came into ICE and is looking at this? Is it the Biden administration? Is it just the individual ICE officer who doesn’t understand this or was there some superior in the bureaucratic process somewhere who just decided they wanted to affect the deportation? I don’t know,” Boden said. “I don’t want to speculate, but there appears to be some change of orders at some point in the chain there.”
Romeike and his wife moved their five children at the time to the United States after facing fines from the German government for pulling their children out of the public school system. Homeschooling is rarely permitted in Germany and only for medical reasons. When the Romeikes began homeschooling in 2006, the German government levied fines that amounted to around $9,000 and threatened to remove the Romeike children from the care of their parents, WBIR reported.
The couple, who had two more children after moving to the United States, were granted permission by an immigration judge to live in the country. After the Obama administration’s Department of Justice fought the decision, the family took the fight to the courts, which ultimately ruled against them in 2013, arguing that the Romeikes did not prove that they faced persecution in Germany.
While the appeals court judge ruled against the Romeikes’ asylum claims, the family was allowed to remain in the United States indefinitely, and they checked in annually with an immigration agent.
“They’re here with the approval of the United States government, but without permanent residency or citizenship status,” Boden told WBIR.
The Romeikes were told to prepare for deportation as the Biden administration continues to oversee record-breaking numbers of illegal immigrants crossing the southern border into the United States. Many of the migrants who enter the country illegally are housed near the border or bused to cities throughout the United States, where they are fed and given rooms at the expense of the taxpayer while they await an immigration hearing. An ICE agent told Fox News last year that some of the illegal immigrants being released into the country have criminal records for misdemeanors such as assault, drunken driving, and drug possession.
When asked about the sudden decision to deport the Romeike family, an ICE spokesperson told The Daily Wire that each case is appropriately reviewed by the Executive Office for Immigration Review.
“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) conducts removals of individuals without a lawful basis to remain in the United States, including at the order of immigration judges with the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). ERO reviews each case as appropriate,” ICE said.
The father of seven also said his children who have already received their high school diplomas in the United States would be forced to undergo schooling again in Germany since the country wouldn’t recognize their homeschool education, but he remains resolute in keeping his children out of the public school system. Uwe told The Daily Wire that he knows of homeschooling families in Germany who have also had their homes and businesses taken away by the state.
The Romeike’s attorney said the sudden decision from the federal government to deport the Christian homeschooling family is mind-boggling on multiple levels, but his organization is going to fight for the Romeikes to remain in America and continue living the life they built in rural Tennessee.
“If you had to think about all the people that you would have to be concerned about in the United States, this is the type of family that you would absolutely welcome into your community,” Boden said.