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Jason Dzubow on Political Asylum

Attention Glenn Beck – Please Hire Me!

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It seems that Glenn Beck is hiring immigration lawyers, and I want in. *First, some background:

I've written before (here and here)
about the Romeike family, a German Evangelical homeschooling family.
They were granted political asylum in the United States after the German
government tried to force them to send their children to public school.
DHS appealed the ruling, and the Board of Immigration Appeals reversed
the Immigration Judge's decision. The case is currently before the U.S.
Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. *Oral argument is scheduled for
later this month.

The Romeikes have a tough case. They have to demonstrate that they
face persecution in Germany. They face fines and possible jail time, and
they might even lose custody of their children. Such punishments are
harsh, but I doubt a court would find that they rise to the level of
persecution (though maybe the loss of the children would qualify).


This would be me if I worked for Glenn Beck (except I am not black) (and I normally do not wear a tie).



Further, and this may be the most controversial aspect of the case,
the Department of Justice is supposedly taking the position that the
Romeikes do not have a "right to home school anywhere." *At least this
is how the Home School Legal Defense Association characterizes
the DOJ's position. Frankly, I am a bit skeptical that this is actually
DOJ's position (their brief is not public, so I have not seen it),
given that they can probably win their case without stirring up this
type of*controversy (see previous paragraph). But I suppose if DOJ
wanted to make all possible arguments against asylum, this would be one.

So how does Glenn Beck tie into all this?

Earlier this week, Mr. Beck discussed the Romeike family on his show:

"They
[Romeikes] did it the right way," said Beck. "They had their visas.
They came here and asked for political asylum. Because if they return to
Germany the state will take their children unless they dump them into
the system that [goes against their Evangelical values]."

Beck
said that the idea of deporting the Romeikes flies in the face of
everything that the U.S. stands for. "There is nothing more un-American
than this."

Mr. Beck compared the family with our country's earliest settlers, who were seeking religious liberty.*

The Romeike's have become a bit of a*cause clbre among American homeschoolers and religious conservatives. A petition
to the White House supporting them has received over 100,000
signatures, and-this is the part that caught my attention-Glenn Beck has
pledged $50,000 to pay for their legal fees.

As a side note, I do these cases for far
less than $50,000 (for affirmative asylum cases, I charge $2,400, which
makes me think I need to raise my rates). Mr. Beck, if you feel
inclined to help out others seeking asylum based on religious
persecution (and I represent many, including people from Iran, Iraq,
China, Afghanistan, and Eritrea), please give me a call.*

So is it hypocritical for conservatives who normally oppose immigration to support the Romeikes? Writing for Salon, Sally Kohn
theorizes that Mr. Beck and his fellow conservatives are supporting the
Romeikes because they are white. While I am no fan of Glenn Beck, I am
willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on this one (though it
seems reasonable to ask why he isn't funding asylum seekers from
countries like Iran and Eritrea, which harshly punish-and kill-religious
dissidents). So what's going on here?

My
guess is that Mr. Beck is confusing American values-such as allowing
parents to home school their children-with asylum law, which protects
people from persecution on account of religion. Just because we in the
U.S. enjoy a particular right-like the right to school our children at
home-does not mean that an alien can get asylum when his country refuses
to allow him the same right. We have a right to abortion in the U.S.
and a right to own a gun, but I doubt an alien who was denied one of
these rights in another country would qualify for asylum in the U.S.

Also,
I wonder whether Mr. Beck has thought about the dreaded "slippery
slope" argument. Would he support this family if they were members of a
Christian Identity (i.e., Neo-Nazi) Church? What if they were (gasp!)
Muslims?*

The Romeikes, like any other asylum seeker, need to show that they face persecution,
as that term has been defined by case law. Otherwise, they simply do
not qualify for asylum. I wish the Romeikes well in their case. But if
it doesn't work out for them, and if Glenn Beck wants to fund some other
worthy asylum seekers who are fleeing religious persecution, I have a
few cases he might be interested in...*

I corrected an error in an earlier version of this post.

Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com.

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Updated 07-16-2013 at 01:24 PM by JDzubow

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