The Brazilian lawyer achieved important victories abroad and became an example of success
Migration is a global reality, motivated by several reasons, such as the search for better living conditions and the escape from war. According to the 2022 edition of the United Nations World Immigration Report, approximately 281 million people around the world have migrated in some way. When attention turns to the European continent, the most recent data from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reports that more than 87 million of the world’s migrants were living in Europe in 2020. When it comes to the Brazilian community, the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs points out that in 2021 there were 1,360,881 Brazilians in Europe, and among these, 138,955 residing on German territory.
Among the Brazilians on German soil is Delaine Kühn, a lawyer graduated in Brazil and licensed to work in Germany. Living in the country for at least 5 years, she works with immigration issues, besides working as a Sworn Public Interpreter (SH) and has a vast experience in issues related between Brazil and Germany, such as work visas, the Blue Card (Work Permit), Family Reunion, Au Pair, Football Players, Divorce and Extrajudicial Custody.
Delaine settled in the city of Hannover, capital of the German province of Lower Saxony, and achieved the unprecedented feat of being elected the first Brazilian woman councilwoman for the city where she lives. In a conversation with ATLANTICO, Delaine gave more details about her trajectory and her achievements outside Brazil.
ATLANTICO- Analyzing the issue of welcoming immigrants, what can Brazil learn from Germany and vice-versa?
Delaine- This is a very difficult question. I believe that Brazil could learn from Germany about how to highlight with more emphasis the places where immigrants are assisted. Another thing is that in Germany the immigration process is much less bureaucratic. On the other hand, immigrants are received more warmly in Brazil, and this receptiveness is something that I think Germany could improve, although I have nothing to complain about in my personal experience. I have always been very well received and never suffered xenophobia, unlike other people who unfortunately had negative experiences in this regard.
ATLANTICO- What is your perception, as an immigrant, of the ultranationalist and anti-immigration movements that have emerged in Europe in recent years ?
Delaine- In fact, the migration to the European continent is also a result of these political issues that not rarely involve conflicts and wars, resulting in millions of refugees settled in Europe. These migratory waves end up being the target of the sensationalism of ultra-right leaders who preach the figure of the immigrant as a subject who will steal the native’s job and space. And these groups need to understand that it is possible to help others and not lose any space or rights because of it. When we are helping someone, we are not losing our place. Unfortunately, immigrants have not always been given the necessary integration so that they feel welcome in the country they are entering. But I believe that this situation can change and despite the ultranationalist and anti-immigration movements, I believe that the issue of receptivity has improved, which can be seen in relation to Ukrainian immigrants. Deep down we are all immigrants in some way. Brazil has in immigration much of its history, culture, and formation. Germany is also a country that was shaped by many immigrant hands. Everything is a matter of integration.
“These migratory waves end up being targeted by the sensationalism of ultra-right leaders who preach the figure of the immigrant as a subject who will steal the native’s job and space.”
ATLANTICO- Do you think it would be possible for the German state to create partnerships with African states for the purpose of cultural, labor exchange and other forms?
Delaine- Germany already has an extensive facilitation program for immigrants. Not only for African immigrants, but for everyone in general. And as I said before, for everyone who has a qualification, the doors are open, and these qualifications can be verified by the Anabin system in Germany. Even my husband has a project in partnership with South Africa in which the German school goes to the country at the end or beginning of each year to promote the language. He also had experience working in the German Corcovado School in Brazil. But there are also other projects that have already managed to build this cultural bridge between Germany and the African countries. The trend is for these programs to become increasingly well-known and in demand.
“When we are helping someone, we are not losing our place and that is something that these ultranationalist, anti-migration groups and movements don’t understand.”
ATLANTICO- What are the similarities and differences between Brazil and Germany regarding legal literature on immigration and immigrants’ rights?
Delaine- Yes, there are many similarities. Even because much of the legislation in Brazil is inspired by the legislation in Portugal and Germany. Just like the two European countries, Brazil also provides more dynamic resources for those who are coming to work, study, etc. The only difference happens in the Stable Union. As this right is guaranteed in Brazil, many try to do the same thing here in Germany. And here this type of union is not possible, at least not as easily.
ATLANTICO- Can the German government’s reforms approved in 2022 for immigrant residency result in concrete and significant changes ?
Delaine- Yes, because the German government is always trying to pass changes that are good for the qualified immigrant. One example of this is the Blue Card. It is a document intended for everyone who wants to quicly get a job outside their homeland and tries to work in Germany or in any other country of the European Union. Some of the prerequisites are, for example, that you already have the work contract in hand and that the salary offered is high. A very positive step is that a person under Blue Card conditions can gain a permanent residence permit after only 21 months in Germany. And if the person knows a minimum of the German language, even better. The German state is constantly updating and improving immigration law in favor for of improving the country’s economy. Germany suffers a lot from a shortage of labor and therefore not only looks at people with high qualifications, but also at people with other degrees. We need all kinds of manpower available.
“Brazil has in immigration much of its history, culture, and formation. So does Germany. It is a country that was shaped by many immigrant hands.
ATLANTICO- As the first Brazilian councilwoman elected in Hannover, does the function differ from the functions performed by the same position in Brazil ?
Delaine- It is very different from Brazil. The system of elections and campaigns are very different. There isn’t much private sponsorship as there is in Brazil and this issue of having lots of money in a campaign. In fact, my entire campaign cost €18.00, which was even laughed at by colleagues from the Rio de Janeiro City Council when I went to visit them. So I find this disparity interesting, where some spend a lot and others spend almost nothing. Here, there is as specific number of candidates where the candidate gets on a list that works in numerical order. My party, the SPD, could launch a maximum of seven candidates in the region where I live. So my party chairman said he would put me at number 6 on the list of candidates. From the beginning, I was already aware that there was a great possibility that I could take a sit as councilor, unless the party suffered a very big drop in votes, which would not be impossible to happen. It was very interesting to campaign, to see people knowing who I am, looking at me and knowing that I was number 6 among the 7 candidates of my party. And it was also a surprise because I spent 5 years outside of Germany to return in 2017, and I didn’t have a political history here. Still an unexpected amount of votes came in. Another difference is that in Germany the position is unpaid. What I do is almost a volunteer work, and I get a stipend. A councilman in Brazil earns a salary and can have up to 20 assistants. At least at the level of Rio de Janeiro. And I don’t have any assistant here. .
“It was a surprise because I spent five years away from Germany only to return in 2017, and I didn’t have a political history here. Yet an unexpected amount of votes came in. “
ATLANTICO- Which projects aiming the improvement of Hannover and the well-being of the population could be applied in cities in Brazil and in cities in Africa ?
Delaine- The municipal and regional projects are really small ones and focused on the place they were intended for. We have party meetings and also immigrant meetings where I am Vice-President of the Immigrants of Hanover and Vice-President of the Jurists of Hanover dor the SPD. So we have several of these dynamics and meetings, but all on a very local level. Although the outreach is local, we organize ourselves to provide support, for example, to the Ukrainian refugees and for children in need. Besides that, there is a very interesting program on the national level called Kindergeld, which works like a the Brazilian program “Bolsa Família” , but more improved. Every ordinary German, no matter what their level of wealth, and if they have children, is entitled to this allowance. Every German child is entitled to Kindergeld because the program aims to provide equal opportunities, equal access to material goods. Brazil still doesn’t have a program with this specificity and needs to advance a lot in social actions. Here in Germany a person does not starve or get homeless if he or she is not working. There are well-developed social programs thinking about people’s welfare and prepared to assist every citizen in a state of social vulnerability. I believe that this is something to be improved in Brazil.
“Brazil still does not have a program with this specificity and needs to advance a lot in social actions.”
ATLANTICO- You have recently participated in the Best of Brazil in Europe 2022 Award. Could you comment about it?
Delaine- It all started when my name was suggested for the award. Rafael do Santos, the creator and presenter of the award, agreed with the suggestion. My first nomination was in 2021, and my name competed in the category of Best Lawyer in the World. The award ceremony took place in London and although I did not win the prize, I was among the finalists. I received many votes from clients, friends and relatives, which made me very happy. Then this year I competed in the category of Best Woman Entrepreneur and took the award home. I was very honored with the victory because I had never imagined that I would win, and as an entrepreneur it is an immense satisfaction to have won in this category. I also realized that the award took my biography into account and this is very significant because of my origins in a community, coming from a humble family and now achieving so many victories outside of Brazil.
“I also realized that the award took into account my biography and that is very significant because of my origins in a community, coming from a humble family and being now achieving so many victories outside of Brazil.”
ATLANTICO- What advice and informations could you give to Brazilians who intend to migrate to Germany ?
Delaine- I believe that people should never lose their hopes and the will to dream. Because dreaming is the most important thing we have. And to the Brazilians who are interested in coming here, get here with a lot of courage, a lot of will to conquer something, to dream about your goals and to grow here without the fear of falling. Of course, knowing the German language is important and a differential, but beyond that, do not be afraid.
Delaine Kühn was also mentioned in two books: Successful Brazilian Women Entrepreneurs in Europe, a work organized by Claudia Canto and Lúcia Aeberhardt, and the book “My Black Skin”, by writer Dayan Kodua.
“I believe that people should never lose their hopes and the will to dream. Because dreaming is the most important thing we have.”
Text: César Rodrigues