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High costs, immigration rules force family to leave

After living here for nearly 10 years, they will return to Germany.

By SHEILA MULLANE ESTRADA
Published May 27, 2007


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NORTH REDINGTON BEACH - Ten years ago, a German family bought a waterfront home here and settled in to raise their three children.

Wednesday, they are reluctantly moving back to Germany - because of, they say, out-of-control property taxes and insurance, and post-9/11 immigration rules that will soon force their oldest son to leave the country.

"This is not what we want to do, but we have no choice, " said Michaela Anderle, as she packed up the last of her family's belongings in a nearly empty house.

A "for sale" sign has stood in her front yard since January but has not generated any offers in a faltering real estate market.

She insists she has no regrets over the time her family has spent in North Redington Beach.

"We love Florida, " she said.

Anderle, her husband, Joerg Jerudrim, and their three children bought their home here in 1998, paying $250, 000 in cash. The home is now appraised by the tax assessor at $650, 000.

Property taxes, which in 1998 were at about $2, 500, reached $11, 000 this year. Property insurance rose similarly to about $10, 000 a year.

"We can't afford this. Because we are not citizens, we do not qualify for a homestead exemption. It's only going to get worse, " said Anderle, who says last year she had to ask her parents for financial help.

In the past 10 years, Anderle's oldest son, Dennis, graduated with honors from Seminole High School, earned a full Bright Futures scholarship and enrolled at St. Petersburg College, where he wants to earn a degree in management, finance and business.

Because of his foreign status, St. Petersburg College refused to accept his scholarship money, putting a further financial burden on his family.

He was willing to work to help pay his college bills but could not qualify for a green card.

Dennis will turn 21 in December and, because he no longer will be covered by his mother's visa, will be forced to return to Germany.

He could apply for U.S. citizenship, said Anderle, but that process could take up to 10 years, and in the meantime he must live in Germany and would be barred from returning to the United States.

This forced family separation is unacceptable to Anderle, who admits she is frustrated by this country's rules.

Her husband, who works in law enforcement in Germany, is equally frustrated.

He travels back and forth to the United States at least twice a year. Since 2001, every time he has tried to re-enter this country, he has been challenged by immigration officials.

"They are rude to him. They won't believe him. They accuse him of working illegally here. They strip searched him and even put him in a cell, " Anderle says. "He has had it. He can't take it any more."

Anderle's younger children, Kim, 14, and Nick, 9, are students at Madeira Beach Middle School and are "very unhappy" about moving to Germany.

"All they know, all their friends are here. They feel they are Americans, " says Anderle. "They are very mad at us."

Although her children are bi-lingual and have visited Germany, she is worried they will have a hard time assimilating into German and European culture.

Dennis, who expects to earn an associate's degree this summer, does not plan to return to Germany right away. And if his girlfriend, Brittany, has anything to do with it, he will never return.

The two are talking about getting married. Anderle says she understands but is worried they are too young.

Anderle says her family will live in Berlin initially, but may move to southern Spain, where the climate is similar to Florida's.

"I would like to have a horse farm. Maybe that will be our next adventure, " she said.

[Last modified May 26, 2007, 18:48:03]


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