The Home School Legal Defense Association announced today that the Romeike family, the German homeschoolers who lost their petition to have asylum in the US, will be granted “indefinite deferred status” by the Department of Homeland Security.
While Religious Right activists like HSLDA head Michael Farris blamed President Obama personally for the Board of Immigration Appeals decision not to grant the Romeikes asylum status, we aren’t holding our breaths for them to thank the Obama administration for the DHS’ decision.
Fox News commentator Todd Starnes, for one, is still milking the case for all it’s worth.
The Fox pundit today published an interview with Republican congressman Phil Roe, who told Starnes that it may take “civil disobedience” to prevent the Romeikes from facing deportation. Roe added that he blames Attorney General Eric Holder for the initial Board of Immigration Appeals decision, calling Holder “one of the most dangerous people in the country.” The congressman also described the Obama administration’s stance as un-American.
Farris, for his part, told Starnes that Tennesseans will organize like Rosa Parks to defend Romeike family, and one Republican state lawmaker called the case an “attack” on “Christian values.”
Southern Baptist Convention spokesman Roger Oldham added that the Romeikes are only facing legal problems because “this family is the antithesis of this administration’s political agenda – a heterosexual married Christian couple desiring to teach their biblical values to well-grounded children.”
Christians in an east Tennessee community are vowing to engage in civil disobedience if the Obama administration initiates deportation proceedings against a Southern Baptist family from Germany who sought asylum in the United States so that they could home school their children.
“It may require civil disobedience with this bunch,” said Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), who represents the congressional district where the Romeike family lives.
“I am furious about this,” the congressman told me. “You’ve got law-abiding people who did everything right who simply want to home school their kids. We used to be that great shining city on a hill. There’s some rust on that city if we are doing free people this way.
Rep. Roe told me the Justice Department needs to “butt out.”
“I don’t know what the Germans are thinking, but we’re not Germany,” he said. “I don’t want to be Germany. I don’t want to be Europe. I want to be America. And right now we’re not acting very much like the America I know with the administration we have.”
Roe called Attorney General Eric Holder “one of the most dangerous people in the country” and called his department’s assault on the Romeike family “appalling and worrisome.”
“The Romeikes have become a part of our family,” said Dean Haun, the pastor of First Baptist Church of Morristown, where the family attends. “I don’t think there’s any question that there will be some people who will be willing to stand with them to the very end – even if it means our imprisonment.”
The Southern Baptist pastor said should that day come, he would be counted among the local residents willing to go to jail to save the family from deportation. “If that’s what it took, yes,” the pastor said. “This is an assault in the face of Christianity in America.”
Roger "Sing" Oldham, a spokesman for the Southern Baptist Convention, told me he was deep distressed by the Obama administration’s actions.
“I’m not sure what’s more chilling – that this administration views their presence in rural east Tennessee as a threat to our nation’s economic and political well being or that this administration lobbied to deport this family to a nation determined to coercively indoctrinate the children in government sanctioned ‘tolerance’ training,” Oldham said.
Oldham said the case is simply perplexing.
“This family is the antithesis of this administration’s political agenda – a heterosexual married Christian couple desiring to teach their biblical values to well-grounded children,” he said. “For whatever reason, our government does not want them in our nation.”
State Rep. Tillman Goins told me the community is “up in arms.”
“Everybody in Morristown knows the Romeike family,” he said. “You have a family who is doing it the legal way, taking every legal step they can to ask to come to this country and to participate as citizens in this country – only to be persecuted by the United States.”
Goins introduced a resolution calling on Tennessee’s congressional delegation to defend the family.
“I don’t know if all religious liberty is under attack in this country,” he said. “It seems like Christian values are under attack more than any other religion.”
Should the day come when the immigration agents show up to take the family away, Goins said he would meet them at the front door.
“Let’s hope that it doesn’t get to that point,” he said. “(But) should it come down to it – absolutely.”
Farris predicted that if the Romeikes are deported, it would spark a movement among religious liberty supporters.
“If they come for this family, it’s going to ignite a movement that’s going to be the same as when they told courageous Rosa Parks to go to the back of the bus and she wouldn’t go,” Farris said.
“I think we may be approaching a similar moment in our country.”