"I believe in regions, not in country borders. We can avoid so many problems in the world when borders don't exist." Barbara Dubick

"People suffered a lot in their home countries. Of course these people come here for economical reasons!" Barbara Dubick

In the middle of heated discussions about asylum laws and refugees’ rights in Germany, Barbara Dubick stays calm and does what she can do best. The 46-year old born and raised Berliner is a lawyer, working in criminal and asylum law. “I don’t have a political solution to the immigration problems. I just see my clients as people who need my help.”

World without borders
Ten years ago Barbara opened her own law firm in the north of Berlin, after having worked extensively in the fields of asylum law. Being a descendant from a family that once came to Berlin as Huguenots refugees in the 16th and 17th century and moved around a lot – the concept of borders and freedom always interested Barbara.

“I remember discussing this as a little child. My friend and I were talking about why borders were there. I said we could solve so many problems and avoid so many wars when borders don’t exist. My friend argued that without borders, the police would never be able catch thieves,” Barbara laughs. “But I haven’t changed my opinion. I believe in regions, not in country borders.”

And exactly these country borders make the lives of Barbara’s clients difficult in Germany. They mainly come from the Balkan countries and are hoping to get papers to stay here. “It is mostly about winning time when it comes to asylum. If you know how to stretch the process long enough, people can find jobs in the meantime, or get married here. These are good reasons for a judge to let them stay here. I also push people to learn German or make them go to school.”

Working with asylum seekers also means that Barbara’s work involves more than just giving them legal advice. “People really trust me with their personal stories – probably because we are sworn to secrecy, people open up to me. They listen when I tell them to send their kids to school,” she says and starts laughing. “Sometimes it’s also funny to see how seriously they take me. Once I visited a client in jail; he had grown a small moustache. I told him I didn’t like it. The next time I saw him he had shaved it off!”

The Roma people are another group that Barbara represents. “Recently, many Roma’s came to Germany and with that, a lot of racism against them. Nobody wants them. I don’t have the solution to this problem. I just know that I have to represent the clients who come through my door here. These people lived on the garbage dumps and never had medical care. Their grandparents were killed in Auschwitz, people burned down their houses, and they have been subjected to racism everywhere. I find that unbearable.”

The red-haired lawyer starts speaking a bit louder. Especially when it comes to the argument that refugees come to Europe just for economical reasons, makes her seemingly angry. “People suffered a lot in their home countries. They lived under terrible circumstances. Of course these people come here for economical reasons! They want a better life. But nobody leaves their home, their families, and their friends if they didn’t suffer incredibly.”

Barbara, sitting behind her desk, over thinks her words for a moment. “You know, nowadays European countries welcome educated immigrants who have skills that could benefit the country. Refugees are always discarded as useless. I think however that these people are the strongest persons you can get. They have survived a very though journey, that not many people are able to survive. You need a lot of competencies to get through all that.”

As asylum seekers usually don’t come to Germany with lots of money, Barbara can’t ask much money for the work she does for them. “I can not work for free obviously, so I always ask people to pay for the job that I do. Experience shows that when people really need money, they always find ways to get it. And experience shows as well that people trust a lawyer who they pay more than someone who does this work for free.”

Outside of her office, the rights of asylum seekers are important to Barbara too. “Two weeks ago I participated in demonstrations – to protest against the Neonazi’s who want all refugees out of the country. It worked, on Moritzplatz the Neonazi’s didn’t even show up,” she grins. “In Marzahn Hellersdorf, where a lot of Neonazi’s live, we were so loud that nobody could hear them.”

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