Homeschooling Asylum

By Mark Krikorian on March 1, 2010

The New York Times writes about a family from Germany which has received asylum in the U.S. because homeschooling is prohibited in their country. This is yet another example of misuse of asylum, as we see our domestic culture wars bleed over into asylum policy; first it was feminists and homosexual-rights campaigners, then disabilities-rights activists, and now homeschoolers.

What we're not doing well is drawing the distinction between governmental or social practices that we disapprove of, on the one hand, and conduct so abhorrent that it creates special immigration rights for people who have no other options. Germany's ban on homeschooling is indeed stupid, but there are two factors weighing on the other side: First, Germany's a democracy and if the stupid laws of every democracy are a cause for asylum, then we're in trouble. In France, after all, you can't (or couldn't) work more than 35 hours a week — are we going to grant asylum to Frenchmen seeking overtime? Or how about the English butcher who couldn't sell his meat in pounds rather than kilos?

Second, Germany is a member of the EU and of Schengen, and as such, its citizens have the right to travel and live in a wide variety of countries, almost all of which permit homeschooling. A specific and immediate reform that would help a lot would be to draw up a list of "safe" countries, like the EU, Canada, and Japan, from which we simply won't entertain asylum requests at all, eliminating the opportunity for protracted litigation and judicial activism. We already have something like this for third-country nationals passing through Canada, and that should be extended to the EU and Japan as well, so that no one arriving at our airports, having passed through those countries, should be permitted to apply for asylum, since they should have done so in the first safe country they entered.