Orange is the New Black star shares her shocking deportation experience

Diane GuerreroImagine being a teenage Latina living with your family in the US. Imagine coming home from school on a day just like any other. The house is empty. Nobody is home to greet you. Silence, solitude, uncertainty and fear grip your young heart. The neighbors rush in to tell you that your parents have been detained. Soon after they will be deported to their home country. In short, your life as you knew it is over. You will need to grow up alone in the United States, unable to share your everyday life with your parents and siblings.

This is the harrowing reality of many young Latinos in the U.S. And also the story of Diane Guerrero, who plays Maritza Ramos in Orange is the New Black. The stunning Latina actress shared her growing pains with the LA Times in a gripping first-person tale of deportation that will make you cry

 

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Diane Guerrero plays a tough-cookie Latina in Orange is the New Black. The 28-year-old Colombian-American born in New Jersey is a strong woman in real life too. Raised by friends' families in Boston after her own parents were deported when she was only 14, Guerrero knew she wanted to be an actress early on.

Before her family was torn away from her, Guerrero grew up watching her parents try to acquire legal status in the U.S, losing their money to opportunistic lawyers. "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," Guerrero writes.

One day her worst nightmare was realized when she got home to an empty house. "Neighbors broke the news that my parents had been taken away by immigration officers, and just like that, my stable family life was over."

A teenager needs all the stability and support she can get, and Guerrero was robbed of that. I know how she could feel, since I was torn from my mother at a young age. My dad and my grandmother raised me and this made up for my mom's absence but still, there was a sense of loss that somehow haunts me to this very day. Looking at my own 13-year old daughter and imagining myself taken from her side forever is gut wrenching. At around my teen daughter's age, Guerrero was left to fend for herself. "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," she recounts.

Her family back in Colombia, Guerrero alone in Boston, she was taken in by the parents of school friends while she attended Boston Arts Academy. Her heart ached with every single accomplishment she could not share with her loved ones. "My family and I worked hard to keep our relationships strong, but too-short phone calls and the annual summer visits I made to Colombia didn't suffice," Guerrero remembers.

Her story is one of many, except not all children who are torn away from their deported parents can tell theirs. Guerrero pleads for a more comprehensive and common sense immigration reform that allows families to stay together. "Not one more family should be separated by deportation," Guerrero concludes. And as a woman who knows what it's like to grow up without your mom, I agree with her. 

Watch her interview on CNN below:

Image Via Corbis

Topics: inspiring stories  latina role models  role models  array