The success of Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black catapulted Diane Guerrero into stardom. The platform she gained was the perfect launchpad for making the U.S. a better place for Latinxs. It encouraged her to take action and become an advocate for the immigrant community. Here are six ways she has been fighting for us all.
Guerrero’s success as an actress opens the door for other Latinxs in the entertainment industry.
Even while facing criticism for taking on roles like Maritza in OITNB, which some critics feel perpetuate Latinx stereotypes, she knows how to defend her choices. “People might ask: what do you think about Latinas being portrayed like this or people of color being portrayed like this?” she told Remezcla. “I go: it’s true, but this is just a side of us, just like it is a side of white folks or black folks. It is just a story being told.” Guerrero has made sure to take on roles that shed a light on other sides of the Latinx experience like Lina on Jane the Virgin, which focuses on a “normal” family, and Sofia, a socially conscious food truck owner, on Superior Donuts.
Educating fans about the undocumented immigrant experience through her memoir.
The actress opened up about the struggles of growing up with parents who were undocumented immigrants in her book In the Country We Love: My Family Divided. Guerrero’s parents were deported to Colombia when she was only 14 years old. She had to rely on family friends to survive. However, Guerrero was able to thrive and build a successful acting career despite being separated from her parents. Her story is incredibly inspiring and a huge testament to the resilience of Latinxs like her. A deal with CBS to produce a TV show inspired by Guerrero’s book was announced in 2016.
Advocating for immigration reform.
Guerrero’s parents actively sought ways to become U.S. citizens before they were deported. “There’s simply no path for citizenship,” she told Yahoo Lifestyle. “And there’s a whole argument, ‘Well, you came here illegally; you should have left and done it the right way.’ There is no right way. My family came here to work, just like your ancestors did. Just because my parents came over in the 1980s and yours came over on the Mayflower doesn’t make your family more deserving of being here than mine. That’s the kind of hypocrisy that I’m talking about.” Her family’s experience has fueled her efforts to speak about the need for immigration reform all over the country.
Calling out President Donald Trump’s harmful policies.
Guerrero hasn’t been afraid to call out the Trump administration. Her response to their decision to to rescinded former president Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program last year was a prime example. “Destroying hundreds of thousands of American lives for personal political gain is disgusting,” she wrote in an essay published by Glamour. “Furthermore, human beings are not illegal, nor are they aliens. Children deserve our protection. Immigration is what made this country what it is, yet the concept of immigration from all nations has been fought against by the residing individuals in power.”
Volunteering at organizations that educate Latinx people about their rights.
Guerrero volunteers with the Immigrant Legal Resource Center whose mission “is to work with and educate immigrants, community organizations, and the legal sector to continue to build a democratic society that values diversity and the rights of all people.” She also gives time to Mi Familia Vota which focuses on getting more Latinos to exercise their right to vote. “I realized that working on immigration issues is great, but I wanted to do something on the ground—now,” she told Parade. “I’m very focused on empowering immigrants who are U.S. residents to seek citizenship. You’d be surprised how many people are residents who aren’t yet citizens. These are people who can and should vote.”
Campaigning for a Latinx museum in Washington D.C.
Guerrero joined legislators from both sides of the aisle in 2017 to introduce a bill that would help secure a location and the handling of funding needed to make a Smithsonian National American Latino Museum a reality. “I was so humbled to spend the day with members of Congress from both parties who are committed to creating a Smithsonian American Latino Museum,” she wrote on Instagram. “Just as we have a Smithsonian celebrating African American history, so, too, will we honor the great and expansive history of Latinos in America. The entire nation will benefit to learn about our neglected and often omitted contributions to this great nation.”