Did you know that folks who homeschool their children are a persecuted class of people who need asylum in the United States? I’ve never encountered any homeschoolers who were legitimately persecuted by the government, unless you count visits from Child Protective Services, but according to House Republicans they are. However, these aren’t American homeschoolers they’re talking about; they must be people from violent, impoverished war-torn areas like El Salvador or the Central Africa Republic where people are being murdered by the thousands for their choice to teach their children at home instead of sending them to school, right?
The bill (called the Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act) that Republicans are introducing is designed to grant asylum for people from places like Germany or Sweden, where you can face fines or prison time for not sending your kids to school – not losing your life, or at least an arm or a leg. Because heaven knows there’s no social group more persecuted and marginalized than homeschoolers, right?
The bill’s provision would grant asylum for up to 500 individuals “fleeing home school persecution” in countries where home schooling is illegal. The bill explicitly refers to home schooling as a “particular social group” and indicates that a person is eligible for asylum if he or she is “deemed to have been persecuted for failure or refusal to comply with any law or regulation that prevents the exercise of the individual right of that person to direct the upbringing and education of a child of that person.” The House Judiciary Committee approved the bill 21-12 last month.
The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), an organization which provides advocacy and legal representation for parents who choose to educate their kids at home, said that the provision was included in the bill “in light of HSLDA’s recent support of the Romeike family who fled from Germany to the United States in 2008 after being faced with fines and prison time for homeschooling their children.” (Source)
I’m sure that some people will ask why I’m opposed to individual liberties, but that’s a red herring argument here. I will say that for the vast majority of my childhood, I was one of those weird homeschooled kids and we were members of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). We even worked for the founding president’s (Mike Farris) lieutenant governor campaign in 1993, where he lost even though the other two Republicans won the governor’s and attorney general’s race, due to being seen too extreme – even by 1990s then-red state Virginia standards. Thanks to the HSLDA, my parents were able to opt out of any and all government oversight when it came to my education – and the fact that I know the Bible like the back of my hand but can’t do mathematics past the basic algebra level is proof of that.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) is this bill’s original sponsor. The people he’s designing this provision for aren’t being killed for their religious beliefs or dealing with violence from warring drug gangs, they’re simply being told that they’re welcome to teach their kids religion at home, but they have to send their kids to public school.
The German government’s philosophical basis is that homeschooling creates parallel societies that do not share common and essential German values and skills. The fear is that without public schooling, immigrants would not be able to integrate into German society, and that without full integration, the nation as a whole suffers.
Like the Dudeks, many of the families interested in homeschooling are deeply religious and feel it’s their duty to incorporate Christian teachings into the day-to-day lessons.
Andreas Vogt, a lawyer in Germany who represents more than a dozen homeschooling families, estimates more than 1,000 children are homeschooled in Germany. Some clients have fled to France, England and Austria to continue homeschooling. (Source)
So you get into trouble with your government for failing to send your kids to school, and that’s more of a pressing need to get into the United States than people who are facing certain death in Central America, Africa or elsewhere throughout the world?
Can you imagine the utter outrage from the same conservatives who are pushing this bill for Christian homeschoolers if the Muslims being massacred in Africa were given asylum here in the United States? Oh, they’re being murdered by Christian militias, so nothing to see here, move along. Let’s not also forget the people in Latin America, either:
Persecution of German parents who don’t abide by home schooling ruling results in prison time or foster care for their children. Persecution of Latin Americans who are denied asylum can result in death after deportation, as it did for at least five children who were deported back to Honduras earlier this year. A deported immigration advocate whose asylum case was denied twice was found shot and killed in Mexico over the weekend.
So, once again we see Republican lawmakers throwing bones to the religious right and the fringe elements of the party. This is a party that’s more concerned with allowing reclusive religious nuts from other countries to shelter their kids from integrating with society than they are with the migrants who are trying to escape actual violence and persecution. Then again, does anything they do these days actually surprise you?
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