November 17th, 2014
10:23 AM ET

"Orange is the New Black" Actress: They Deported My Family

On “Orange is the New Black,” Diane Guerrero’s character Maritza is a tough Latina who is separated from her young daughter while she does time. It’s a pretty moving storyline on its own, but Guerrero’s real life is just as captivating, if not more.

When she was 14 years old, she came home to an empty house. The cars were out front, the lights were on and dinner had been started, but there was no one home to finish it. Neighbors told her that immigration officers had taken her parents and older brother away.

“I broke down. I hid under the bed because I was afraid that someone was going to come for me.”

Guerrero moved in with a friend’s family when her own family was deported to Colombia. Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t easy on the teenager, who worked in a variety of jobs and did her best to stay in touch with short phone calls and annual summer trips that she still takes today.

“We’ve been separated for so long that sometimes I feel like we don’t know each other,” she says.

She considers herself lucky, especially because the rest of her family hasn’t been as fortunate. When Guerrero’s brother was deported, his daughter was a toddler who ended up facing a lot of challenges in life. Like Guerrero’s Maritza, her niece is now serving time in jail.

Guerrero is calling on Congress to enact fair legislation for immigrant families so that they aren’t torn apart by deportation, and hopes President Obama will do everything in his power to provide a solution.

Watch Guerrero's emotional interview with New Day above, and read her letter in the Los Angeles Times for more.

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soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Bobbi

    Why is that these people think they have rights? Illegal is illegal. Look it up in our American Dictionary. We are the only country that lets these people come here and take jobs, welfare, food stamps, etc. Why do we allow that??? I am a product of immigration. We all are. But our ancestors did it the right way. Legally. Legally. And by the way, there was no food stamp, wic, welfare. THEY WORKED.

    November 18, 2014 at 2:37 pm | Reply
  2. Jessica Martinez

    That's exactly what happened in my family. My dad was deported when I was 9 and I remember my grandma picking me up from school rather than my mom and my grandma had this worried face expression that still haunts me today and she just kept saying immigration took your dad. Of course I was too young to know what that was and I remember just asking why and she said itwas because he was born in el salvador. Watching my father in jail are memories I cannot erase. A few months after,we lost the house and half my siblings. I am one out of seven, six at the time, and my mom was a housewife who did not finnish high school and was only surviving with the savings my dad had left. My three younger sibblings who are american citizens were sent to a third world country where my father and his family over there would take care of them. Us older ones had to fight the battle here in america where we suffered through hunger, starvation, and my father's best friend who became obsessed with my then vulnerable mother and not onl became her stalker, but ours. Abused, shamed, and assulted m mother to sleep with him and would call my older sister demanding to know where my mother was. My mom worked at night to earn just $.50 more at pitney bowes where they process mail. I watched her drain from life while she worked and worked and worked to pay the lawyer to which after 2 years said my father would have to suffer the 10 year penalty. I remember when my mother took us to a park to tell us the outcome of my fathers case and I remember asking her 'what now?' And she said 'we move to el salvador' she asked us individualy and as a thirteen year old, it was hard to decide weather to leave the comfort of my homeland or end our seperation and see my daddy again and my siblings. I remember being the last one to decide and finally said yes with the conclusion that if I was going to starve, might as well starve happy with my family all together. It was hard to adjust first, because it was ad if we had entered a new world and my spanish was not good at all. It was hard but after 2 years I learned to love it. Working in the fileds with my father and heralding cows had its fun. But we all knew us older ones had a chance at bettet education and I wad the 'brave' one who volunteered to come back. I lived eith so many aunts and uncles in such a short time. At 16 and in high school i became an abnormaly quiet child. Long story short, one by one my siblings are coming back. My mom, my sister, my brothet and me are here. And next month we are bringing my other brother and maybe my baby sister (yey!). And even better news in November of next year (2015) my father will complete the 10 years of punishment and we will be able to continue the process and get him papers. Of course these memories hit home and it tears me up sometimes but i have to be strong and take care of my family untill my dad comes back and i wont have to be the man-of-the-house. Or in my case,the woman. This interview Diane really helps heal some of those wounds that are dtill open because it makes me feel less alone. After so many years of hardship and drowning in silence when no one knew how we were dyeing inside, makes me know we were not alone and others can understand and relate to the pain we went through. Thank you for this, it feels like closure and something I really needed to be ablr to let go of all that pain.

    November 18, 2014 at 1:11 am | Reply
    • Gabriella Meillon

      You'r so BRAVE Jessica, I'm sorry for what happen to you...WE NEED A FAIR IMMIGRATION REFORM!!!

      November 19, 2014 at 3:15 am | Reply
  3. Rob

    Um, there is "fair" legislation. Don't come here illegally, don't get deported.

    November 17, 2014 at 5:22 pm | Reply
    • Jessica Martinez

      Sr Rob, with all due respect I want to ask if that 'fair' legislation you speak about is truly "fair"? If so, why was it not applied to your ancestors when they came to America illegally? To your defense, I presume they came for a better future would you not say? And if so, what crime did my father or Diane's parents commit other that wanting the same thing your ancestors once did? Unless you are Native American, I apologize for the above. If not, do me the favor of researching the definition of "fair" so you can see you spelled "unjust" wrong.

      November 19, 2014 at 4:04 am | Reply

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