US Asylum Law: Is Banning Homeschooling Considered Persecution?
Recently, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an interesting case on the basic eligibility requirements for asylum. In that case, the German citizens fled their country and applied for asylum in the US, based on their belief that the German ban on homeschooling can be seen as a well-founded fear of future persecution.
Generally, an applicant’s application for asylum must be based on one of five reasons: religion, nationality, political opinion, membership of a particular social group and / or race. In the present case, the plaintiffs claim that they fear future persecution by the German government due to the application of the law prohibiting homeschooling of children. Specifically, they argue that forcing their children to attend public schools would allow them to become familiar with values that are anti-Christian, and thus they argue that they have a well-founded fear of future persecution based on a religious basis.
Although the immigration judge initially granted the asylum application, the Board of Immigration Appeals reversed the judge’s decision and denied the asylum application. The case was appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court, and in its Decision, the Court declares that the applicants are not eligible for asylum. Because there is a law of general application in Germany that requires all children to attend public schools or state-approved private schools, the Court held that the German government was not selectively punishing applicants. The Court observes that the German government, by implementing the law by applying heavy fines to the plaintiffs, was simply enforcing its own laws and was not prosecuting the plaintiffs for any reason other than the law in Germany.
The Court states that for applicants to win their asylum case, they must show that German officials applied the law more strictly to homeschooling families and that the punishment was more severe for homeschooling families. . In the present case, the family was fined the same amount as any other family that did not enroll their children in public school.
This case may be considered a precedent for applicants within and outside the jurisdictional area of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals due to the underlying decision issued by the Board of Immigration Appeals. The present case makes clear that the Court will not consider the underlying basis of Germany’s law prohibiting homeschooling, but will instead seek whether that law designates any protected group on the basis of the five asylum grounds mentioned above.