Benjamin Brophy takes Attorney General Eric Holder to task for opposing the Romeike family's petition for asylum in the United States. As Brophy notes, the Romeikes homeschool their children and this is illegal in their native Germany. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the Romeikes last month and they are now appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.
While I hesitate to agree with Holder, I suspect this would be the position taken by whoever would have been serving as Attorney General had Mitt Romney been elected last November.
The United States grants asylum to those who have been persecuted or fear they will be persecuted on the grounds of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group and political opinion. There is a world of difference between being persecuted for practicing one's religion and being prosecuted for transgressing the laws of the land.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals is thus correct in their ruling. Indeed, the Court cited the words of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito in a case he ruled upon while he was with the Third Circuit Court of Appeals two decades ago. In Fatin v. INS, Alito wrote:
The concept of persecution does not encompass all treatment that our society regards as unfair, unjust, or even unlawful or unconstitutional. If persecution were defined that expansively, a significant percentage of the world's population would qualify for asylum in this country - and it seems most unlikely that Congress intended such a result.
Indeed, I do not agree with Germany's law against homeschooling. However, the German people have legitimate, democratic elections. If Germans don't like the decisions made by the Bundestag they are in a position to change their government. Ergo there is nothing to prevent the Romeikes from petitioning the German government to change the laws concerning homeschooling. The same cannot be said of a Christian family from Cuba or Iran. These are the sort of regimes from which U.S asylum law is intended to grant people relief and refuge, not a democratic government like Germany.
I am not unsympathetic to the plight of the Romeikes. But if they want to live in the United States there is nothing to have prevented them from immigrating here through conventional means. Granting the Romeikes asylum would set a bad precedent and would give Germany and other countries the opportunity for mischief should an American seek asylum in their jurisdiction.