Diane Guerrero, now 28 and successful with her role on Orange Is the New Black, was just 14 when she arrived home from school one day to her worst nightmare: Immigration officers had carted her parents away. It was a fear she'd lived with her entire life, she writes in the Los Angeles Times; her parents came to the US from Colombia before she was born seeking refuge from the country's instability and a "dire economic situation." From childhood, she watched them try to become US citizens, Guerrero told CNN today, but "what people don't realize [is] it is so difficult for some people to get documented. ... This system didn't offer relief for them." And when they were deported, "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."
Friends took her in while she finished high school, but her older brother was also deported, leaving his young daughter to be raised by a single mom. Guerrero writes that her parents "would have liked to fight deportation, but without a lawyer and an immigration system that rarely gives judges the discretion to allow families to stay together, they never had a chance. ... My story is all too common. Every day, children who are US citizens are separated from their families as a result of immigration policies that need fixing." Though she knows the issues are complex, she writes, the system must be changed—for everyone's sake: "Children who grow up separated from their families often end up in foster care, or worse, in the juvenile justice system despite having parents who love them and would like to be able to care for them." Click for her full piece.