If you are a fan of Jane the Virgin or the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black, you have seen Diane Guerrero play Jane’s best friend Lina or the feisty Litchfield Penitentiary inmate with the gorgeous long black hair and signature winged eyeliner, Maritza Ramos. But, did you know that when she was just 14 years old, Guerrero’s family was deported and she fell through the cracks of the system?
Yup, no one from social services or any agency came to check up on her. Unlike other American born children, who have different things to worry about, her brother and parents were undocumented immigrants. In her memoir, this brave actress talks about how hard her family worked to keep their family ties strong throughout the whole ordeal. Before her parents and brother were sent back to Columbia, she had watched them try to become legal… to no avail. While she watched her parents lose their money to shady attorneys, her childhood was haunted by the fear that they would be deported. And one day it happened.
She walked in the door after school, panicked. They were gone. And no one asked about her. No one came looking. Guerero chronicles this lived experience with grace and dignity. She writes about her precarious and rocky existence—always living with friends and relying on the kindness of others, but always feeling like an unwanted nuisance.
I think about my 15-year-old child, who comes home after school knowing that her parents will be home (or on their way home) and not be taken away, secure in that knowledge, but not all children feel this way. Sadly, Guerrero’s story is all too common. Every day, children who are U.S. citizens are separated from their families as a result of immigration policies that need fixing.
Diana Guerrero’s memoir is an incredible story of personal triumph and resilience. It’s less celebrity memoir and more about how you build a life and a successful acting career for yourself without the support system of your family.
Whether you are a fan of Guerrero or just the genre, this memoir is a great read. It’s not just a good way to get your fix of juicy celebrity biography or reading about a great personal triumph, but also learning more about the life of just one of the many people like her who survive. Guerrero is one of the over 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the US whose lives here are just as precarious, and whose stories haven’t been told.