‘We felt the freedom here’ | Family faces deportation after moving to homeschool children
The Romeike family came to Morristown from Germany in 2008 to homeschool their kids, which is illegal. Now, they might have to return and face consequences
MORRISTOWN, Tenn. (WVLT) - A family could be deported after living in East Tennessee for 15 years. They said the news came out of nowhere and going back home could have major consequences.
“We basically grew our roots here in this country,” Uwe Romeike said, the father of the family.
Morristown has been home to the Romeike family for 15 years. East Tennessee is where their friends are, where they work and celebrate birthdays.
“The moment we came here, we felt the freedom here,” Uwe Romeike said.
The Romeike family is from Germany. They came here in 2008 after they home-schooled their kids, which is illegal in Germany.
“We just watched them, how they changed and got hurt and bullied in school,” said Hannelore Romeika, Uwe Romeike’s wife.
Uwe said they faced thousands of dollars in fines and the possibility of losing custody of their kids from homeschooling them.
They came to the U.S. where they applied for asylum. They were allowed to stay on an order of supervision, something that has to be renewed every year.
“And that was fine until this year,” Uwe Romeike said. “All of a sudden, out of the blue, they told us to come back with passports and to self-deport.”
The Romeikes have seven kids, and the two youngest are U.S. citizens since they were born here. The other five are not, and one of them is married with a newborn baby. The Romeikes are worried about keeping everyone together.
Uwe Romeike said they met with staff members from Sen. Bill Hagerty’s office on Thursday to talk about pathways to stay in the U.S.
The Home School Legal Defense Association has a petition on its website to advocate for the family, which has surpassed 70,000 signatures as of Friday evening.
“My thoughts went back to Germany, no one fought there. They all kicked us out,” Hannelore said. “Now, we come as a foreigner here to America, and the people are so supportive, and they fight on our behalf. And it’s very moving for us.”
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