“Brave” and “inspiring” is how 28-year-old actress Diane Guerrero described a group of mothers who have come out of the shadows and talked about the struggles they face every day as undocumented immigrants, something the actress knows all too well from her family's personal experience.
“They really inspired me to come forward with my story and lend my voice to this cause,” Guerrero said. “And I think it’s important for them to be honored and be put on the spotlight, because it’s stories like theirs and their bravery that really motivates others to come out and get involved.”
The American-born actress is known for her roles in "Orange Is the New Black" and "Jane the Virgin." Guerrero was 14 years old when her parents and older brother 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.
On Tuesday night, while attending the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health’s 20th anniversary gala in Washington, D.C., Guerrero presented an award to DREAMers’ MOMS USA.
The group mainly consists of immigrant women with children who are either U.S. citizens or dreamers. They advocate for changes in the immigration system and for an end to family separations caused by deportations.
They also hold forums to educate immigrants about their rights and encourage them to get civically engaged at a local and national level. They have chapters in several states, including Arizona, Florida and Virginia.
There to receive the award on behalf of the advocacy group was Lenka Mendoza, an undocumented mother of two DREAMers as well as a U.S. citizen and who has been living in the United States for more than a decade.
Guerrero said that by telling their stories and getting involved, members of DREAMers’ MOMS USA are putting a human face to the issue of immigration.
“Hopefully they will encourage other parents to come forward and be part of the immigration movement,” said Guerrero.
NLIRH Executive Director Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas said in a statement that her group “could not be more honored” to have Guerrero present NLIRH’s Por la Dignidad (For Dignity) award to DREAMers’ MOMS USA during Tuesday night’s gala.
“Diane’s personal connection to the fight for justice for immigrant women is a testament to her commitment and the importance of this issue,” Gonzalez-Rojas said.
Also honored at the gala were civil rights icon Dolores Huerta and former Nevada State Assemblywoman Lucy Flores.