Diane Guerrero’s family tragedy completely changed her life — but she’s using her pain to help others in the Latino and immigrant communities.
The “Orange Is the New Black” actress and activist has been candid about the deportation of her family members — her mother, father, and brother — when she was just 14 years old.
“One day, my fears were realized,” Guerrero wrote in her 2014 Los Angeles Times op-ed. “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.”
She was cared for by friends and their family members, and while she later found success as an actress on shows like “Orange Is The New Black” and “Jane the Virgin,” she tells La Opinion in a new Spanish-language piece that she continues to experience effects from PTSD and is in therapy.
But, she is also using her personal experience to educate and mobilize Latinos, immigrants, and their families to vote and be actively engaged in the 2016 election, teaming up last year with ILRC and Mi Familia Vota to record a video PSA.
“There are millions of people who aren’t registered to vote even though they’re eligible,” she says in the video. “And if Latinos don’t vote, politicians will ignore us. They won’t pass fair immigration laws to keep our families together. And they won’t even guarantee equal pay for women. I am ready to prove to politicians that we cannot be ignored. Let’s show them that we are ready.”
In the new La Opinion profile, she slams the racist rhetoric of leading Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump and other anti-immigrant candidates, but says his words can help ignite the Latino and immigrant communities like never before.
“I am not a fan of Trump,” she said. “He’s a person who inspires fear but the good thing is he’s motivating our people to move their butts and get more involved in activism and the community.”
Guerrero isn’t alone in rejecting anti-immigrant and anti-Latino policies this Presidential election — new polling that shows Trump has an astounding 87% unfavorable opinion among Latino voters.
Another 78% of Latino respondents say that Trump’s views on immigrants and immigration make them “less likely” to vote Republican this November.
Guerrero adds: “We have to pay attention to who we vote for in all levels of government, for those who will protect us and those who will represent our interests.”
“I am happy to be alive, to keep fighting for my parents, for my dreams and the dreams of other families.”
Read the entire La Opinion profile here.