On Saturday, over 30,000 people joined together for the Families Belong Together Rally in front of the White House to protest the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy, which separates parents from their children at the U.S. border.
Among them was Diane Guerrero, an actor known for roles on Orange Is The New Black and Jane The Virgin, who gave a speech about what it is like to experience such policies firsthand. When Guerrero was 14, her parents and brother — who had come to the United States from Colombia and tried for years to attain a path to citizenship, she revealed in an interview Guerrero with Chelsea Handler, were deported. Guerrero was born in the United States, so she was left behind and had to depend on other families to take care of her.
At times during the speech Guerrero broke down in tears, but her voice and message stayed strong. She also said in Spanish that she misses her parents and brother, who are still in Colombia, every day. Still, she has had to maintain her optimism.
“I wouldn’t have been so lucky if I had been among today’s generation of children who will be irreversibly damaged by our government’s actions. It’s a denial of children’s humanity to say that because they were born in a difficult or dangerous place at the wrong time, that they don’t deserve a second chance,” Guerrero said. “Once my family was taken, I became fully aware that my community matters less to some people. That we are treated differently because of the colour of our skin or where our parents were born.”
Guerrero has long been an outspoken advocate for immigration reform. She has written two books about her experience, In the Country We Love: My Family Divided, and My Family Divided, an adaptation of the first memoir intended for children. She told The Washington Post that she wanted to write the adaptation because “this is something that is affecting some kids, other kids need to see that,” and she didn’t have any kind of literature to guide her when her parents were taken away.
“I have taught myself to have hope. I have to believe that this is an opportunity for us to rise above the tyranny, the ignorance, the malpractice, and to believe in change,” she said. “This is a chance for us to come together as a nation and rise above division and fear.”
Guerrero ended her speech with a call to action, encouraging listeners to join forces for the upcoming midterm elections in November.
“For our families and children, let us march and make our voices heard,” she said. “Remember this in November when we march to the polls.”