Pending Legislation Could Offer Asylum in U.S. for Persecuted Homeschoolers

Purcellville, Virginia, UNITED STATES


Purcellville, VA, Oct. 26, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) --

Homeschoolers all over the world face oppression from their governments for their choice to educate their children at home, but a piece of legislation currently before Congress could create a safe haven in the United States for these persecuted homeschooling families.

The Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act of 2017—H.R. 391—successfully passed through the House Judiciary Committee this summer, and it could come up for vote at any time. Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is urging its members to contact their representatives and voice their support for the bill, which includes a measure that would allow a small number of foreign homeschooling families to receive asylum each year if threatened by their government over their decision to homeschool.

The Rigals in Cuba could be one such family. Pastor Ramón Rigal and his wife Adya decided to homeschool their children earlier this year after their son was bullied in his public school. They were quickly told by the Cuban authorities that their decision would have consequences. Ramón was tried, convicted, and sentenced to one year of hard labor after being told by the authorities that homeschooling has a “capitalist foundation.” Ramón has voiced a desire to flee to the United States.

The Romeike family, who escaped Germany after being threatened with fines and jail time, are one homeschooling family that found safety in the U.S., but their road was not easy. After more than two years of court decisions that did not go in their favor, the Romeikes were granted deferred legal status by the Department of Homeland Security.

Other families like the Wunderlichs in Germany and the Johanssons in Sweden aren’t as fortunate. The Wunderlichs are currently fighting for the right to teach their children at home, and the Johanssons lost custody of their only son and have not seen him since 2010.

“Homeschooling is a human right which no government may legitimately prevent its citizens from exercising,” said Mike Donnelly, HSLDA’s Director of Global Outreach. “Cuba’s actions violate its international legal obligations—and they are not alone. Ostensibly free countries like Germany and Sweden are also guilty of intolerance towards homeschooling. Congress can send a powerful message to these countries: when it comes to educational decision-making, parents come before government.”

While HSLDA aims to see homeschool freedom restored internationally, their hope is that H.R. 391 will send a message that the right to homeschool will continue to gain acceptance, and countries that refuse this right will be left behind.

“Homeschoolers in the United States have unparalleled freedom to educate our children in the way that’s best for them,” said Will Estrada, HSLDA’s Director of Federal Relations. “While many families across the world yearn for this freedom, U.S. law does not allow them to claim asylum. H.R. 391 would fix this and allow the United States to be that shining city on a hill for persecuted homeschooling families across the world. We urge Congress to pass H.R. 391 and send it to the president for his signature.”

Home School Legal Defense Association is a nonprofit advocacy organization established to defend and advance the constitutional right of parents to direct the education of their children and to protect family freedoms.  Visit us online at www.HSLDA.org  

 

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