August 1, 2017

Judiciary Committee Approves Homeschool Asylum Bill

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William Estrada, Esq. by WILLIAM ESTRADA Director of Federal Relations

Congress has taken the first step toward passing a law that would grant asylum to homeschooling families who are being persecuted by foreign governments.

On July 16 the House Judiciary Committee approved H.R. 391, the Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act of 2017.

Home School Legal Defense Association helped draft the section of this legislation that deals with homeschooling. We strongly urge you to contact your representative to support this provision.

Our advocacy for specific immigration law reform is motivated by the experience of the Romeike family, who applied for asylum in the United States in order to escape Germany and its repressive, anti-homeschool regime.

Immigration Judge Lawrence O. Burman granted their request, stating that the oppression the Romeikes faced is “repellent to everything we believe as Americans.”

The Obama administration appealed this ruling, and the family’s asylum was revoked. Our arguments on appeal were to no avail, and eventually the United States Supreme Court refused to review the case.

The Romeikes, however, continue to live in the United States pursuant to an indefinite order of supervision, a status that does not provide for permanent residence or the possibility of applying for citizenship.

The stories of the Romeikes and other families such as the Wunderlichs in Germany, the Rigals in Cuba, and the Sandbergs in Sweden demonstrate the repression faced by some families just because they want to homeschool their children. We enjoy great liberty in the U.S., but as homeschooling grows, it is facing resistance in a number of countries.

By passing this legislation, Congress can demonstrate to the world that homeschooling is a fundamental right that we expect every government to respect.

Action Requested

Please call your U.S. representative and ask him or her to support the homeschool asylum language in Section 21 of H.R. 391, the Asylum Reform Act. Encourage your representative to call for a floor vote on H.R. 391 before the full U.S. House of Representatives when Congress returns in September.

You can reach your representative and make an appointment to meet by calling the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and asking for your representative by name. Or you can use HSLDA’s legislative toolbox to find your U.S. representative and his or her contact information.

H.R. 391 is similar to legislation that passed out of the Judiciary Committee in 2015, but did not ultimately come up for a vote. With your help, this time we can obtain a different result.

— Mike Donnelly contributed to this article.