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Why Immigration Reform is Needed Now: Orange is the New Black Actress Speaks Out

Diane Guerrero is a Colombian-American actress who plays Maritza Ramos in the acclaimed Netflix series 'Orange is the New Black'. In the series, Diane's character is an inmate at Litchfield Penitentiary. Maritza has a young daughter who she misses dearly and who is living with relatives during Maritza's incarceration.

In a twist of life imitating art and vice versa, Diane has recently spoken out about her own devastating childhood experience when both her parents and her brother were deported from the United States, leaving her to fend off for herself at the tender age of 14. Diane grew up in Boston, MA, and was the only American citizen in her family. Her parents and her brother were undocumented, a situation she was aware of and which her parents did her best to prepare her for should anything ever occur, but this did not make the reality of the deportation any easier.

In an emotional TV interview, Diane explains that she arrived home to an empty house. Her parents' cars were there and dinner had been started, but no one was home, pointing to something terrible having happened. It was the neighbours who broke the news to her that her parents were picked up by immigration officials, something that was later confirmed through phone calls from her mother and father respectively who were incarcerated separately and later deported.

Since the age of 14, Diane had to rely on the kindness of various neigbours, family friends and relatives to see her through high school and is particularly vocal about the fact that no government agency checked in with her following her parents' deportation to ensure that she was safe and cared for. The actress makes a passionate and tearful plea for US immigration reform. She explains the devastating harm that continues to affect her family to this day since she can only see her family once a year when she visits Colombia and discusses the strain the physical separation has caused her once extremely close-knit family. While President Obama's US immigration proposal provides relief to qualifying undocumented parents of US citizens, sadly, this relief sadly comes too late for Diane and her family.

Watch the full interview here.