Update On Political Asylum for Homeschoolers
The New York Times, in an article titled, “Granted Asylum To Learn At Home” (3/1/10. P. A15), provides some analysis and quotes from Judge Lawrence O. Burman’s decision that shed new and surprising light on his decision to grant political asylum to the Romeike family, who were German homeschoolers. Judge Burman writes that Germany’s ban on and strong punishment of homeschoolers is “utterly repellent to everything we believe as Americans.”
Burman also writes that homeschoolers are a group who have “principled opposition to government policy” and are “members of a particular social group.” When coupled with the issue of the Romeike’s also being persecuted because of their religious beliefs Judge Burman found the family qualified for asylum. The article then notes:
“It is definitely new,” said Prof. Philip G. Schrag, the director of Georgetown Law School’s asylum program, who added that he had never heard of such a case. “What’s novel about the argument is the nature of the social group.
But, he said, given the severity of the penalties that German home-schoolers potentially face, the judge’s decision “does not seem far outside the margin.”
The US government is appealing the decision so this case can be precedent setting and therefore something to watch. It’s still not clear to me how or if this decision would apply to secular German homeschoolers seeking asylum but, as reported in the Times, the breadth of the decision surprises me; I look forward to reading the complete decision.