Actress Diane Guerrero, who stars as an inmate on the popular Netflix series Orange is the New Black, told CNN Monday that her parents were deported when she was a teenager, which is why she is backing President Obama’s push for immigration reform through executive action.
During the televised interview, Guerrero painted a picture of a day when she came home from school to find that her parents had been taken away by immigration officers, something she claimed she was often prepared for.
“It is so difficult for some people to get documented and to get their papers and become legal, and my parents tried forever. And this system didn’t offer relief for them,” she said. “What I’m asking for is to create or find a solution for families.”
The actress is now a volunteer for the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, which is a nonprofit group that advocates for the rights of immigrants. She wrote about her stance on immigration reform in a Los Angeles Times op-Ed piece this past weekend, where she discussed what it was like growing up without parents.
Guerrero strongly believes President Obama should use executive action to give amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants.
“Keeping families together is a core American value, she explained. “Congress needs to provide a permanent, fair legislative solution, but in the meantime families are being destroyed every day, and the president should do everything in his power to provide the broadest relief possible now. Not one more family should be separated by deportation.”
In her editorial, Guerrero talked about coming home to an empty house when she was 14-years-old.
“Lights were on and dinner had been started, but my family wasn’t there,” said Guerrero. “Neighbors broke the news that my parents had been taken away by immigration officers, and just like that, my stable family life was over.”
The actress went on to say that annual visits and phone calls to her family in Colombia could not fill the void of losing them. Instead, she relied heavily on support from friends and neighbors to graduate from high school and ultimately college.
Her brother, who was also deported, reportedly left behind a young daughter. The actress said: “She still had her mother, but in a single parent household, she faced a lot of challenges.”
She added that her niece is now in jail “living the reality that I act out on screen.”
“I realize the issues are complicated. But is not just in the interest of immigrants to fix the system: it’s in the interest of all Americans,” she wrote. “Children who grow up separated from their families often end up in foster care, or worse, in the juvenile justice system despite having parents who love them and would like to be able to care for them.”