Friday's 'Hot Topics: Cool Talk' Forum Asks

The case of a Christian German family seeking political asylum in the United States because the parents want to home-school their children will be debated in the next “Hot Topics: Cool Talk” forum on Friday, Nov. 30. The forum will be held from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in Room 235 of the School of Law on the downtown Minneapolis campus of the University of St. Thomas.

Free and open to the public, the forum is sponsored by the university’s Terrence J. Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought, Law and Public Policy. A complimentary lunch will be served to those who register for the lunch program.

The Hot Topics: Cool Talk series, which explores Catholic positions and other perspectives on provocative issues of law and policy, focuses this year on the challenges of religious freedom in the United States and around the world. The Nov. 30 forum is titled “The Romeike Asylum Case: Does Germany's Ban on Homeschooling Count as Religious Persecution?”

The forum will feature legal experts debating the case of Uwe and Hannelore Romeike and their five children, ages 4 to 14. Starting in the fall of 2006, the parents began keeping their three oldest children out of school, which is illegal in Germany where attendance at an officially recognized school – public, private or religious – is mandatory.

When the Romeike family did not comply, officers showed up at their home in the town of Bissingen and took the children to school in a police van. Facing steep fines and threats that they could lose custody of their children, the parents emigrated to Morristown, Tenn., in 2008, and applied for political asylum the following year.

Luke Goodrich

Luke Goodrich

Early in 2010, U.S. Immigration Judge Lawrence Burman granted asylum to the family, saying that “home-schoolers are a particular social group that the German government is trying to suppress. This family has a well-founded fear of persecution … therefore, they are eligible for asylum.”

David Abraham

David Abraham

The case was appealed by U.S. Immigration and Customs to the federal Board of Immigration Appeals; a decision is pending.

Presenting the case in favor of the family at the St. Thomas forum will be Luke Goodrich, legal counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which has submitted an amicus brief supporting the Romeike's asylum claim. Presenting the case against asylum will be David Abraham, a professor of immigration and citizenship law at the University of Miami School of Law.

Sarah BrenesSarah Brenes, an attorney with Advocates for Human Rights and a former fellow with the St. Thomas School of Law Immigration Clinic, will moderate the discussion.

Information about the Hot Topics: Cool Talk series is available here.

The Minnesota Board of Legal Education has approved the program for a standard CLE credit.

The forum is being held in conjunction with the Journal of Law and Public Policy's fall symposium, "Homeschooling: Rights and Tensions at Home and Abroad." Symposium speakers include Dr. Dick Carpenter, director of strategic research for the Institute of Justice; Mary Rice Hasson, a fellow in the Ethics and Public Policy Center; and Michael Donnelly, the director of international affairs and staff attorney for the Home School Legal Defense Association.

Go to the UST Law event page for the complete symposium schedule.