Lending her voice: German teacher dedicates herself to legally assisting immigrants

By: Cam Grubic

Gunda Brost has been a devoted foreign language teacher for nearly 20 years, ever since she received her teaching degree from Wartburg College in 1996. However, what most people don’t know about Brost is that outside of her classroom she devotes her time to her practice, Brost Law Office.

Brost works to help undocumented immigrants gain legalization, freedom and independence in the United States. She has been practicing law since 2007 and really became interested while she was teaching in Omaha.

Brost had been teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) in Omaha, and numerous people asked her questions about how they would be able to stay in this country. She had always been interested in being a lawyer, and what really helped her make up her mind was when a man came to her with questions.

He was an undocumented immigrant who had been working illegally in the meat processing industry. He came to her with questions about how he could get help. His fingers had been cut off during his work, and no one was there to help him or compensate. At that time, she knew what she wanted to do.

By the time Brost had her son, Benny, she was teaching at an all boys private Catholic school in Omaha. “I liked it a lot,” she said, “and I wanted to stay there,” Unfortunately, there was no law school nearby that would cooperate with her already busy teaching schedule, and she didn’t want to move terribly far.

This was when she heard about Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn. Hamline offered courses that would fit with her busy time schedule, and at the same time help her become an attorney. Brost finally decided to go learn about law practices and put herself in the field.

Brost, an immigrant herself as she was born in Germany, said, “When you are born somewhere else, you’re always going to be different. I feel American because I love America and the opportunities it has given me.”

She said she can relate in many ways to these clients of hers and loves challenges, being able to overcome them and being able to prove herself. She gave an example of a woman who was brought into the United States by her mother as she was a small child in 1984, and now this lady is facing problems with her legalization.

What do you do with someone who has been living as if she is a citizen and contributing to American society practically her whole life, without any documentation or records of any of it? These kinds of cases are what intrigue Brost: those seeking help because they don’t know any other life outside of U.S. borders with no other wish in the world except to stay here.

In the past, Brost has taught at both UNI and Wartburg College. “I’m so busy with my law practice,” she said, ”and they would like me at UNI again, but it’s so busy. I was so busy that it became hard to focus on one thing, and that can reflect poorly. Right now, I am very balanced.”

In the end, she said her focal point comes down to humanity. She said she needs to continue doing good things for the sake of humanity. “The things that I see in the law practice, it’s so meaningful. I feel like what I do is meaningful.”

Brost admires a speaker named Monica Reyes, a woman who was also brought here with her mother and has faced the struggles of being an illegal immigrant. Brost said that Reyes puts a human perspective on the whole thing. She explained that some of these people are those who have lived amongst us for years, even decades, people who have worked, paid taxes and maybe even started their own companies with their only crime ever committed being crossing the line illegally.

Brost’s mission is to these people who only know what it is like to live in the land of the free, and who would be completely lost and devastated to be thrown back into their native countries.

She said a majority of people don’t realize that these migrants live in the shadow of fear, worrying about what that moment will be like or even when the law will make it all come down to deportation and being stranded in the lands they possibly might not even recognize.

These are the kinds of situations that Brost devotes her thoughts and time into so that she can stand up and become the voice that they aren’t able to be and the light amongst their shadows.

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