PHOENIX, Arizona — Actress Diane Guerrero told a room full of volunteers who are out registering Latinos to vote in Arizona that telling their personal stories is one of the most powerful tools they can use to rally Latinos to register and vote.
"Just sharing who you are — there's so much value in that," she said. "I want us to all look at ourselves and look at our stories. It doesn't matter where you come from or what journeys you've taken. Your stories matter, and they're powerful."
The American-born actress, best known for her roles as Maritza Ramos on the Netflix web series "Orange is the New Black" as well as Lina in CW show "Jane the Virgin," was 14 years old when her parents were deported to Colombia. She shared her story for the first time in an op-ed she wrote for the Los Angeles Times in November 2014 and recently shared her story through a memoir.
While in Phoenix on Thursday, Guerrero met with members of One Arizona, a coalition of community groups that are on track to register 120,000 new Latino voters. As many as 433,000 Latinos are projected to vote in Arizona this year, up from 400,000 in 2012 and 291,000 in 2008.
Hispanics make up about 22 percent of the eligible electorate in Arizona, according to Pew Hispanic.
After telling her story of how her parents were deported, she heard from Stephanie Maldonado, whose mother was in deportation proceedings and returned to Mexico in 2012. Maldonado shared with Guerrero how difficult it has been to be separated from her mother, but also how that experience has empowered her.
"I'm here fighting because I know what it feels like to feel afraid. I know what it feels like to be lonely," Maldonado said. "But I also feel that I'm empowered to share my story."
Guerrero thanked Maldonado for sharing her story and said she could relate to how difficult family separation can be.
"I know what that is, but it's so powerful that you're sharing your story and you're doing this work," Guerrero told Maldonado. "That is so redeeming for you and your family, and I know it's going to pay off."