Lessons I Learned from Orange is the New Black

Diane+Guerrero+Emerson+Jackie+Fraser+Swan+z5zVPuu9N4xlThe timing of actress Diane Guerrero’s op-ed in The LA Times is spot on as the president prepares to bypass Congress with an executive amnesty and as her show Orange is the New Black just announced its premiere date.

In a heart-felt piece, Guerrero criticizes the deportation of parents of U.S. citizen children by telling the story of her parents’ deportation when she was 14 and the emotional toll it had on her growing up. Her parents immigrated illegally from Colombia in search for a better life in America. Guerrero was born in the U.S., making her a citizen by birthright. When her family was deported, she remained in the U.S. attending a highly regarded public arts school in Boston.

Guerrero’s character in Orange is the New Black leaves her young daughter to be raised by relatives while she serves time in prison for a crime she committed.  As we get to know Guerrero’s character and her fellow inmates, we learn that many of the crimes these women committed were in pursuit of creating better opportunities for themselves or their families. OITNB is a compelling fan favorite because examines what motivated these women to break the law and the resulting consequences of their actions, both for themselves and their families. While we may understand and sympathize with these characters, our sympathy never excuses what they did to end up in Litchfield Penitentiary.

In real life, Guerrero’s parents broke the law when they illegally immigrated, and they were held accountable for their actions. The key difference between Guerrero’s family and her character’s family is that Guerrero’s family was sent back to their own country (not jail) and Guerrero could have gone with them.

The Guerreros, like many other families in similar situations, prioritized keeping their citizen child in the U.S. over keeping their family together. Their family faced this difficult choice of whether or not uproot their daughter and return to Colombia as a family or arrange for her to continue to live in Boston with family friends as a result of the choice the parents made to break U.S. immigration laws.

Like our favorite inmates in OITNB, while we can understand and empathize with the reasons why people break the law to come here illegally, it does not excuse the act itself. And while we can feel for the decisions these families are faced with when they are held accountable for breaking the laws, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t hold them accountable. The fact is, the U.S. already has one of the most generous immigration policies of developed nations, allowing over a million immigrants a year. In a world in which billions of people could improve their lives by illegally immigrating, it’s only fair to our citizens and to prospective immigrants that we set a clear path for legal immigration and enforce those laws.

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Content written by Federation for American Immigration Reform staff.


  1. avatar

    Last night Obama added the final nail in the coffin of this once great nation. We have been deteriorating since the first illegal alien broke into our country. I can only guess what our forefathers would think of the situation. Why do we have to take care of the world? Not only pouring money into their coffers, we are also forced to take care of them here. They demand entitlements and the pro-illegal, anti-American, organizations such as La Raza, demand more and more entitlements. It’s amazing to me that third world countries like Mexico can conquer a nation such as ours. We have never lost a major war, but now we have been conquered by the sheer number of people who just walk in and stay.
    Obama wasn’t the first to close his eyes to this travesty, but he’s finishing us off in grand style. He will welcome anyone who comes in. Illegals just won the jackpot. The only losers are the legal, law-abiding Americans. Guess we’re pretty stupid, huh?

  2. avatar

    Ashley you are inexperience in life and to make a judgment as to w=the Guerreros do not keep their family
    together….youare simply wrong and do not understand their ice situation which makes you naive…….

  3. avatar

    The root cause is the antiquated 14th amndment that allows citizenship to children of those unlawfully present as well as persons who come legally on visas and give birth to “new citizens” which gives the,parents easier entry into the country. Amending it would solve a lot of future,problems. No other developed country would put up with such nonsense the US us now going through.

    • avatar

      Good Thought

      Not necessary at all, the 14th Amendment never did give anchor babies citizenship, it prohibits it. All it did was assure the 1860 slaves’ kids got citizenship….period. Read it.

      I bet the open border pundits passed on the 14th Amendment fairy tale brainwashing….they knew it takes 2/3s of the legislature to add an Amendment and are trying to trick us all and make their lies real.

  4. avatar

    I Hear Violins Playing Now?

    I don’t want to be labeled “cold hearted”, but who cares.

    We need to take care of our country first, its a jobless low wage mess, if that means its still better than the rest of the world, then let the rest of the world fix their own HORRIFYING overpopulation problems, not ship them here to make our destroyed overpopulated country even worse. Anyone else have a better plan?