Free the home-schoolers, President Obama

The Gazette editorial Published: December 3, 2013 | 12:00 am 0

Free the German home-schoolers and let them succeed in the United States.

Among others, the U.S. offers sanctuary to God's most talented and motivated individuals. Doing so has helped make the country an economic and military super power. We have, for almost 240 years, given refuge to those who seek freedom to communicate, learn, worship and achieve. Immigrant success stories never stop and are told around the globe.

"Many of the predominantly Iraqi Kurds in Tennessee came after Saddam Hussein's Anfal gassing campaign," explained a recent story in Al Jazeera, a worldwide media organization owned by the government of Qatar.

The American Observer explained why America appeals to Muslims.

"The prospect of freedom and stability continues to be an incentive to relocate to the U.S. and draws people from all corners of the globe; but the U.S. is a particularly desirable location for Muslims," the article stated.

A 2012 study found immigrants to the U.S. are more than twice as likely to start businesses as are those born here. Some of our country's finest companies began with immigrants: Google; AT&T; eBay; RadioShack; Yahoo; Nordstrom; Comcast; Sara Lee; Dupont; Colgate; Kraft; Pfizer; Procter & Gamble; and the list could go on.

Those willing to uproot, escape or move thousands of miles - in pursuits of freedom and/or goals - typically have much to offer the destination of choice.

So it's hard to figure out why President Barack Obama seems determined to deport the Romeike family of Germany.

The Romeikes, like growing legions of their American counterparts, believe the best academic and religious education for their five children is at home.

Anyone can find colossal home-school failures, just as they can find a few bad public schools. But study after study has shown home-schooled students outperform public school graduates in American colleges and universities. A Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Nebraska found home-school graduates are better prepared for college, relative to their public school peers, in all subjects except college algebra.

Because of a law imposed by Adolf Hitler in 1938, which forbade home schooling, the German government threatened to take the Romeike children if the parents did not enroll them in a government-sanctioned school. The Romeikes, showing extraordinary dedication to education and religion, uprooted and sought asylum in the United States in 2008. This is the kind of family that's likely to graduate children who will create companies, products and jobs.

Eligibility for asylum requires the applicants fear persecution. Given Germany's plan to take the kids, we can check that box. It requires the persecution relate to race, religion, nationality, political opinion or affiliation with a "social group." Check. The family home schools to avoid secular schools, meaning their dilemma centers on religion. Third, the persecution must involve government. Check.

Attorney General Eric Holder disputes the religious nature of the problem because not all Christians believe home schooling is integral to the faith. The bizarre argument dismisses our country's tradition of respecting religion as an individual choice. If a foreign government abuses one family for unique values - say they're Islamic but worship a flying spaghetti monster - the U.S. should harbor them. This is land of the free. A petition on WhiteHouse.gov, supporting asylum for the Romeikes, quickly obtained the 100,000 signatures needed to force a response from the Obama administration. Instead, the administration said it could not comment on a matter working through the courts.

Last week, the Supreme Court ordered the administration to answer the petitioners in a meaningful way.

The Romeikes should be welcome here. If Obama won't help, perhaps the Supreme Court will choose to hear the case and do the right thing.

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