March 5, 2014 -- A German family that was threatened with deportation after losing an appeal for asylum in the U.S. because they wanted to home school their children has been granted permission to stay in the country indefinitely, a family attorney said.
Michael Donnelly of the Home School Legal Defense Association told ABC News his office received a call from the Department of Homeland Security informing him that Uwe and Hannelore Romeike and their seven children will not be deported.
The news came just 24 hours after the Supreme Court said it would not hear the family's asylum appeal, raising fears the Romeikes could be sent back to Germany, the country they had fled from in order to be able to home school their children.
"[The Romeikes] are very relieved, they are grateful, they are happy and pleased that they will be able to stay here peacefully and homeschool their children. They are grateful that someone in the government recognized that it would be the wrong thing to send them back to Germany," Donnelly said.
The devoutly Christian Romeike family fled to the United States in 2008 from southwest Germany after the German government threatened them with legal action for homeschooling their children, which has been banned in Germany since 1918.
German families who choose to home school their children anyway face legal action including potential loss of custody of their children and fines. The family had racked up close to $9,000 in fines before moving to the United States, settling in Tennessee.
The Romeikes were initially granted asylum by a Memphis judge who believed that Germany had unfairly restricted the family's religious freedom. That decision was challenged and overturned by the Obama administration on appeal, which argued that Germany's home schooling ban did not constitute religious persecution and could not be used as a basis for asylum in the United States.
The family has had its "deferred action," status extended indefinitely, which means as long as the Romeikes stay out of trouble and stay in contact with the Department of Homeland Security, they won't be deported, Donnelly said.
Uwe Romeike expressed his relief and gratitude in a post on the Home School Legal Defense Association website.
"We have always been ready to go wherever the Lord would lead us," he said. "Our entire family is deeply grateful for all the support of our friends and fellow homeschoolers and especially HSLDA. I thank God for his hand of blessing and protection over our family. We thank the American government for allowing us to stay here and to peacefully homeschool our children — it's all we ever wanted."