Guerrero said her lack of education about the immigration system led her to feel shameful about her family’s deportation.
“A lot of children are experiencing having to have these tough conversations and not being educated at school about what the system actually means,” Guerrero said. “I just think it would have made a great deal of difference for me to have read a story that I could relate to.”
As “My Family Divided” enters stores, the nation has been grappling with the issue of migration and families following the Trump adminisration’s controversial family separation policy.
Guerrero’s activism predates the current momentum; she volunteers with Immigration Legal Resource Center, a nonprofit for immigration education, and Mi Familia Vota, a Latino voter engagement organization. Her immigration advocacy has taken her to the White House multiple times, starting with an invitation from former President Barack Obama after she published her family’s story in an L.A. Times op-ed.
In June, she gave a speech in front of 30,000 protestors at the “Families Belong Together Rally” in Washington, D.C.
Following the recent news, Guerrero said the thought of over 2,000 separated children motivated her to keep fighting and stay angry.
“I wasn’t put in a cage, and I didn’t have to lose my parents in such a young age,” Guerrero said. “I was able to hold on to their love and their teachings as long as I could.”
Guerrero describes the unity against family separation — even many immigration hard-liners have opposed the administration’s family separations, disturbed by photos and audio of detained toddlers — as “a light at the end of the tunnel.”
“Certainly, it’s made me feel less crazy,” said Guerrero. “I’ve been sharing my story and trying to talk about how it affects human lives and how it affects one’s mental state … how traumatizing this can be for families, and what kind of lifelong repercussions separating families has one people.”
Guerrero captured her audience with political ease, mixing lightning quips — “Yo dude, wake up,” to a fan whose phone alarm went off during the Q&A — with exhortations on Latino media representation.
While she signed books, she bonded with fans over shared star signs (the cusp of Cancer and Leo) and mutual adversity.
Citlali Pizarro, 20, talked to Guerrero about being the only Latina in her college’s acting program. Another young woman, Rebecca Rabello, told Guerrero the book made her cry in the DMV.
Some young fans asked Guerrero for advice on how to make a difference, even if they aren’t old enough to vote.
“Even if you can’t be an activist every day, when you can be, do it,” Guerrero said. “If you have money, donate it. If you have time, donate that time. If you have a story to tell, share that story. There’s a list of things you can do, and even educating yourself is a form of revolution in my opinion.”