By Hannah Stryker
With immigration and the Mexico-United States border currently being treated as a hot topic, some celebrities have been at the forefront of the debate, vying for immigrant rights. One notable figure is actress and activist Diane Guerrero, known for her roles in television programs “Orange is the New Black” and “Jane the Virgin.” Guerrero sympathizes with detained migrant children because she once also experienced the mental repercussions of family separation.
Guerrero’s parents, undocumented immigrants from Colombia, were taken by immigration officers from their Boston home in 2001. The couple moved to the U.S. two decades prior, and had overstayed their visas; unfortunately they never received legal citizenship. At the age of 14, Guerrero’s life instantly changed forever. At such a young age, Guerrero learned to be independent; now she shares her story.
For the University of Maryland’s 2019 Social Justice Day, Guerrero spoke as a keynote speaker. In a conversation with Undocuterps, the activist read from her memoir, “In the Country We Love,” and answered questions from students.
During the event, Guerrero discussed how being separated from her family taught her a lot. She said that she was fully able to grow strong when she understood that she had no reason to be ashamed of her family’s separation.
When asked about what her goals for immigration reform are Guerrero said, “I’d like to see a path to citizenship. I’d like to see our visa system updated. I’d like to see more solutions.”
Guerrero gave an in-depth talk about her difficulties dealing with family separation in her past, relating to the Undocuterps students. “I am someone that has experienced family separation and what that does to the mind, body and soul,” she said. “No one should be afraid to be here.”
“The experiences she shared with us were really great and down to Earth. The event was really significant and inspiring, especially for the undocumented people in the audience,” freshman government and politics major Raina Newsome said. “I think we need to hear more of the stories of undocumented immigrants, especially from children who have lived through their parents’ sacrifices.”
Guerrero also explained the correlation between feminism and immigrant’s rights. “I believe we are intersectional beings; I cannot care about one issue and not care about the other,” she said. “I cannot care about immigration rights if I don’t care about women, and vice versa. I can’t care about women’s rights if I don’t care about racial equality.”
She opened up about her work on “Jane the Virgin” and said that being part of the diverse cast helped her understand and love herself more. According to Guerrero, fellow castmate Gina Rodriguez is a great leader and has taught her a lot about acting.
Be sure to catch Guerrero as “Crazy Jane” in DC Universe’s new web television series “Doom Patrol.”
Featured Photo Credit: Hannah Stryker/Bloc Reporter.
Hannah Stryker is a freshman journalism major and can be reached at email@example.com.