"My parents were deported." An Op-Ed by Orange is the New Black Actress Diane Guerrero

In “Orange Is the New Black,” I play Maritza Ramos, a tough Latina from the ‘hood. In “Jane the Virgin,” I play Lina, Jane’s best friend and a funny know-it-all who is quick to offer advice.

I love both parts, but they’re fiction. My real story is this: I am the citizen daughter of immigrant parents who were deported when I was 14. My older brother was also deported.

My parents came here from Colombia during a time of great instability there. Escaping a dire economic situation at home, they moved to New Jersey, where they had friends and family, seeking a better life, and then moved to Boston after I was born.

Throughout my childhood I watched my parents try to become legal but to no avail. They lost their money to people they believed to be attorneys, but who ultimately never helped. That meant my childhood was haunted by the fear that they would be deported. If I didn’t see anyone when I walked in the door after school, I panicked.

And then one day, my fears were realized. I came home from school to an empty house. Lights were on and dinner had been started, but my family wasn’t there. Neighbors broke the news that my parents had been taken away by immigration officers, and just like that, my stable family life was over.

Not a single person at any level of government took any note of me. No one checked to see if I had a place to live or food to eat, and at 14, I found myself basically on my own.

While awaiting deportation proceedings, my parents remained in detention near Boston, so I could visit them. They would have liked to fight deportation, but without a lawyer and an immigration system that rarely gives judges the discretion to allow families to stay together, they never had a chance. Finally, they agreed for me to continue my education at Boston Arts Academy, a performing arts high school, and the parents of friends graciously took me in.

I was lucky to have good friends, but I had a rocky existence. I was always insecure about being a nuisance and losing my invitation to stay. I worked a variety of jobs in retail and at coffee shops all through high school. And, though I was surrounded by people who cared about me, part of me ached with every accomplishment, because my parents weren’t there to share my joy.

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"Orange is the New Black" star, Diane Guerrero speaks about having undocumented parents who were deported. (via CNN)

It’s heartbreaking to hear her story and to know that other children of immigrants aren’t so lucky as her and have to go into foster care. To think that your parents may be taken from you any day is frightening. 


Jose Ramon has been married to his wife Alma for six years and is the father figure, as well as emotional and economic support, for her three children, who were physically and mentally abused by their natural father.

His 10-year-old son Esturado has attempted suicide twice and is now hospitalized for a suicide note he wrote because of his stepfather’s detention.

Make Phone Calls:

Call Krome Processing Center @ 305-207-2100
Call National ICE @ 202-732-3000 or 202-732-3100 

Sample Script: “Hi, I am calling to ask to release and stop the deportation of Jose Ramon Munoz Velasquez (Inmate #200713031). Jose Ramon is the economic provider for his wife and her three children, who were physically and mentaly abused by their father. Please release Jose Ramon immediately!”

Full families challenge US-Mexico border with mass reentry
March 11, 2014

Any day now, President Obama, whom immigrant groups call the “deporter in chief,” will make history by surpassing the two million mark — separating two million families through deportation during the course of his administration’s five-year reign.

In response, migrant families are making history of their own.

On March 10, 250 migrants, who have lived in the United States most of their lives, attempted to reenter the country after being deported. Many entire families are returning, while others are coming to rejoin family members still living in the United States. The group is chanting “undocumented and unafraid” as they cross through the U.S. portal that separates Tijuana from San Diego. This action, part of the #not1more campaign, marks the third mass border crossing organized by the National Immigrant Youth Alliance. The action comes as immigrant justice groups are increasingly moving beyond advocating for legislative reform and are instead turning to direct action to protest the record deportations. The group says that these actions are calling attention to the immigration crisis and the way millions of families are separated by an arbitrary boarder.

Last year, 150,000 U.S.- born children were separated from at least one parent. The majority were under the age of 10. One of these stories is that of Manuel, who spent 10 years living in Ohio with his U.S.-born children and wife. According to the National Immigrant Youth Alliance’s Facebook page, “Manuel was placed in deportation proceedings after he hired an immigration attorney who he later found out was a fraud.”

All 250 families participating in yesterday’s action have lived in the United States for a large portion of their lives, creating homes and community in this country.


More Protesters Arrested As Obama’s Deportation Record Nears 2 Million

Eight demonstrators tied themselves to one another wrist-to-wrist in the falling snow Tuesday morning, and lay down across the road in a human chain, blocking access to an immigration detention center in Elizabeth, N.J. Detention officers on their way to work waited in a line of cars stretching down the street.

For nearly a minute, the steady blast of a car horn drowned out the sound of the protesters’ chants. By the time the police arrested the protesters about a half-hour later, snow had begun to pile up on their bodies, hiding the slogans on the T-shirts they had pulled on over their sweaters.

The protest was the latest in a recent series of demonstrations aimed at urging President Barack Obama to stop the deportation of undocumented immigrants. In the past year, supporters of immigration rights have expressed growing frustration with the president, who has overseen the deportation of nearly 2 million immigrants during his time in office, far more than any other president in history. With a deeply divided Congress now nearing its holiday recess, it seems nearly certain that another year will pass with lawmakers failing to make any headway on immigration reform.

In November, immigration-rights activists made headlines by interrupting the president during a speech in San Francisco, demanding that he use his executive powers to stop deportations of immigrants who would gain legal status under reform legislation. A few days later, Obama met with activists who have been staging a hunger strike for nearly a month in a tent on the National Mall. Since September, more than 80 people have been arrested in more than half a dozen protests around the country.

Jorge Torres, one of the protesters who was arrested, denounced Obama as the “deporter-in-chief,” a term that has become popular in immigration-rights circles.

The president can’t be the deporter-in-chief and a champion for reform at the same time,” Torres said. “If he wants to help immigrants he can start by not deporting them.

And then one day, my fears were realized. I came home from school to an empty house. Lights were on and dinner had been started, but my family wasn’t there. Neighbors broke the news that my parents had been taken away by immigration officers, and just like that, my stable family life was over.

Not a single person at any level of government took any note of me. No one checked to see if I had a place to live or food to eat, and at 14, I found myself basically on my own.

—  Orange is the New Black actress Diane Guerrero wrote a powerful person essay about her parents’ deportation.  

Porsha Olayiwola - “Father’s American Dream”

"The bills picked up, so my mother picked up two jobs and she’s been working them ever since."

Porsha Olayiwola, winner of last year’s Individual World Poetry Slam. Subscribe to Button on YouTube!

"No Borders, No Nations, Stop Deportation!" by Melanie Cervantes

New print available http://bit.ly/1gFr161
Melanie Cervantes, 11 x17, 2-color screenprint, chipboard, Printed in San Leandro, 2013

'My paternal grandparents and my uncle were deported, in the 1930s, under the “Mexican Repatriation Act” along with around 2 million other people living in the U.S. It didn't matter that my uncle was a citizen (Along with another 1.2 million others). Most people I talk to have never heard of this policy signed by conservative Republican President Herbert Hoover. I believe the trauma this caused to my family still has not been resolved. They are scars run deep.

'If only history didn't repeat itself. Operation Wetback 1954 and today…

'I wonder, in the future, will people remember Obama's deportation record? 1100 families are torn apart EVERY day. What impact are these racist policies having on the little ones whose families are being separated? And, what traumas will be passed on to the generations who haven't been born?'


Faces from the #Not1More Boston Rally Against Deportations (4/17/14)

President Obama has deported 2 million people since he came into office and is the nation’s “Deporter in Chief.” Despite signing an executive order to halt the deportations of undocumented immigrants who came as children, he has taken no similar actions to halt the deportations of their older family members. Families are being split and destroyed every day by the Obama administration’s current policies, and President Obama has the power to sign a similar executive order tomorrow halting all deportations until Congress takes comprehensive action. But he has refused and continues to drag his feet, and some of the most marginalized families in our country are paying the price of his inaction.

I had the pleasure to attend and take pictures at this rally last Thursday, and it was incredibly moving.

Together we say: not one more family destroyed, not one more day without equality, not one more indifferent reaction to suffering, not one more deportation.


#2million2many #Not1more

More photos: HERE