Obama Administration Says ‘Nein’ to German Homeschooling Family Seeking Asylum
Late last month a heavily armed SWAT team consisting of police, special agents, and social workers, stormed the home of Dirk and Petra Wunderlich. This was the culmination of a four-year saga trying to evade German authorities.
No, the Wunderliches were not cooking up a dastardly terrorist plot or smoking pot. Their high crime and misdemeanor was homeschooling their four children ages 7-14.
Homeschooling has been illegal in Germany since 1918. The Homeschool Legal Defense Association, the organization trying to help the family, explained how it all started years ago after a neighbor told authorities that the Wunderliches don’t take their children to school:
When the social workers asked the children to ‘come along,’ the children refused. Mr. Wunderlich reported that the school attendance officer Frau Christa Lettau, mocked the children, saying they were just parroting their parents’ orders.
‘Yeah, yeah, you do not want to go to school because your parents do not want you to,’ she reportedly said.
She told Mr. and Mrs. Wunderlich, ‘Do you know what type of consequences this has? We will then meet at a later date in Darmstadt again, and we will take away your complete custody.’
Mrs. Wunderlich asked her: ‘All for the welfare of the children?’
Frau Lettau responded, ‘Yes.’
An intervention by the family’s attorney stopped Frau Lettau from forcibly removing the children long enough for the family to go on the run from one nearby country to another. Continued hounding by German child “welfare” officials and a dearth of steady work convinced the Wunderliches to (reluctantly) return to their home town near Frankfurt.
Last fall, a German court awarded custody of the Wunderlich children to German youth agents. The family’s lawyer was able to stall the state’s forcible removal of the children until August 29, as HSLDA reports:
Judge Koenig, a Darmstadt family court judge, signed the order on August 28 authorizing the immediate seizure of Dirk and Petra Wunderlich’s children. Citing the parents’ failure to cooperate ‘with the authorities to send the children to school,’ the judge also authorized the use of force ‘against the children’ if necessary, reasoning that such force might be required because the children had ‘adopted the parents’ opinions’ regarding homeschooling and that ‘no cooperation could be expected’ from either the parents or the children….
‘I [Mr. Wunderlich] looked through a window and saw many people, police, and special agents, all armed. They told me they wanted to come in to speak with me. I tried to ask questions, but within seconds, three police officers brought a battering ram and were about to break the door in, so I opened it.’…
‘The police shoved me into a chair and wouldn’t let me even make a phone call at first,’ he said. ‘It was chaotic as they told me they had an order to take the children. At my slightest movement the agents would grab me, as if I were a terrorist. You would never expect anything like this to happen in our calm, peaceful village. It was like a scene out of a science fiction movie. Our neighbors and children have been traumatized by this invasion.’
Wunderlich said that his 14-year-old daughter Machsejah had to be forcibly taken out of the home…
‘I turned around to see my daughter being escorted as if she were a criminal by two big policemen. They weren’t being nice at all. When my wife tried to give my daughter a kiss and a hug goodbye, one of the special agents roughly elbowed her out of the way and said—‘It’s too late for that.’ What kind of government acts like this?’
One that insists children are creatures of the state. But the real creatures in this travesty of are state officials ostensibly in charge of children’s “welfare.” Yet surely, had the Wunderliches managed to flee to the United States, they would be given political asylum, right?
Uwe and Hannelore Romeike and their five children fled Germany because they had taken their eldest out of school for educational and religious reasons. Worried the state would remove all of their children, the family moved to Tennessee in 2008 and were granted asylum in 2010.
Out of the frying pan and into the ice, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement successfully challenged the asylum decision in 2012, and the Obama administration’s Department of Justice backed them up. Aided by HSLDA, the family is appealing. As the Canada Free Press reported:
On August 12, 2013, the White House responded to the Home School Legal Defense Association’s petition that a German homeschooling family, the Romeikes, be granted political asylum in the United States. Uwe and Hannelore Romeike fled their home country after being prosecuted for homeschooling. …[see here for background]
HSLDA’s petition for the Romeikes was published on the White House’s petition website on March 19 and needed to reach 100,000 signatures by April 18 to receive a response. The petition hit the threshold on April 9 and continued to gather signatures, at one point making it the second-most-signed petition on the website. The White House’s response came 125 days after the petition reached the required number of signatures. …
While the White House response says it cannot comment on the case, the White House has responded to petitions that address the legal status of foreign students with advanced U.S. degrees and the Defense of Marriage Act while it was being challenged before the federal courts.
It’s worth remembering that in Pierce v. Society of Sisters the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed the “liberty of parents and guardians to direct the upbringing and education of children.”
Apparently Attorney General Eric Holder missed the ruling. In its June 26 brief to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Department of Justice insisted, “Teaching tolerance to children of all backgrounds helps to develop the ability to interact as a fully functioning citizen of Germany” (p. 8).
So our DOJ believes government officials forcibly removing children from their parents develops tolerant, functioning citizens.
Now there’s an undeniable red line message for the American people.