Entertainment

Inspired By Her Role As Blanca On ‘Orange Is The New Black,’ Laura Gómez Uses Her Instagram to Share Immigrant Stories

Season 7 of “Orange Is The New Black” saw the ladies of Spanish Harlem portray the real-life struggles of detained immigrants. One such migrant story was the one following Blanca, a woman who is wrongfully imprisoned and whose bad legal advice causes her to her imprisoned by ICE. Laura Gómez, the actress who portrayed Blanca in the series, played the part with a fierce authenticity. 

Though the role started as a smart part, Blanca’s story evolved into one of the most captivating of Season 7.  

However, we weren’t the only ones moved by Blanca’s story. Gómez herself was deeply touched by Blanca’s ICE detention storyline. 

View this post on Instagram

It was Summer time when I received the notification for a small -possible recurring role- in a “web series” by #JenjiKohan on a new revolutionary online platform called @netflix. The character description read something like #BlancaFlores: crazy Dominican woman in bathroom. She talks to the devil on the phone.” @jen_euston was the CD. I felt the audition went well, but Jen said I might be too pretty for the role. “I have a Picasso side,” I jokingly replied, but left convinced that once again I probably wouldn’t get the part. I had recently quit my job and was taking filmmaking courses so I got busy directing my first short film. Then about two days later I got the call, never imagining that a show created by a woman, bringing relevant if controversial topics about the prison system to the table, with such unconventional & diverse cast would help put #Netflix on the map, changing the concept of streaming service and how we watch television forever. Tonight is the Premiere of our last season and we have embraced that fact saying goodbye to a unique time in our lives. #BlancaFlores taught me never to judge a book by its cover, and reminded me, like Stanislavsky said, that there are no small roles! #endofanera #newbeginnings ????Cuando audicioné para el rol de Blanca Flores en una nueva “serie-web” creada por #JenjiKohan, la directora de casting me dijo que tal vez era muy bonita para el rol. Le dije que tengo un lado Picasso y nos reímos, pero me fui convencida de que una vez más sería rechazada. En ese tiempo había renunciado a mi trabajo asi que me enfoqué en mis clases de cine, y en dirigir mi primer corto. Dos días después recibí la llamada de que había sido seleccionada para el personaje. El resto es historia. Nunca imaginamos que un show creado por una mujer sobre temas de reforma carcelaria, con un elenco tan poco convencional ayudaría a poner a #Netflix en el mapa, cambiando el formato TV, ni que representaría tanto cambio en nuestras vidas y la de nuestra audiencia. Hoy que es la Premiere de la última temporada, y reflexionando sobre este personaje, me percato y recuerdo que las apariencias engañan y como bien dice Stanislavsky, que no hay roles pequeños.

A post shared by Laura Gómez (@mslauragomez) on

The “Orange Is The New Black” star shared with Page Six in a recent interview how the series has impacted her life. According to Gómez, since the end of Season 6 — when Blanca was shown being removed from the prison and entering ICE lockup — fans of the series have reached out to the actress with their concerns for her character. This caused Gómez to reflect on how she was able to uplift migrants and their stories. 

“I feel very grateful to been part of the journey and the storytelling of what it meant for Blanca to go into a detention center, and what it means politically right now, in terms of where we’re living in society,” Gómez told Page Six. “It felt urgent and important because of the immense response that I got…I started to get emotional about the responses I was getting.”

The reactions Gómez got to the ICE storyline made her reflect on the very real stories of actual immigrants and the difficulty they’re currently going through because of our political atmosphere. 

Netflix

Due to this response, Gómez wanted to use her platform as a popular actress to shine a light on these real immigrant stories. 

“I felt compelled and inspired to start this series, it actually came from my friends,” the actress explained. “A friend of mine had a tee shirt that said ‘Immigrants: we get the job done.’ I took a photo, and I felt compelled to talk a little bit about her. I felt like, wow, this is a person who’s an immigrant, who is doing an amazing job and is having a very positive impact in American society and that’s how it started.”

From that first picture, Gómez began a series of Instagram posts called “Immigrant Stories by Laura Gómez” — a weekly series that explores immigrant life.

  Instagram / @mslauragomez

In the first installment of the series, Gómez featured her friend Anabelle Soto. A photographer who is responsible for many of Gómez’s gorgeous portraits, Soto is an immigrant making a positive impact on her community and — according to the “OITNB” actress — is “an immigrant superhero.”

Since the first post, Gómez has featured an immigrant’s story every Thursday on her Instagram account.

 Instagram / @mslauragomez

While all posts show how the migrants use their talents and know-how to improve their communities, some include personal anecdotes that show the personal impact these friends, family members, and neighbors can have on our lives. This post features Adam Gagan, a former neighbor of Gómez’s who helped her with her physical limitations following her first knee surgery. He would haul her groceries and packages up to her 4th-floor walk-up while the star recovered. That’s what we call kindness and we should see more of it in our world. 

This post shared the story of one of Gómez’s fellow Latina actresses.

Instagram / @mslauragomez

A Cuban-American actress, Maggie Bofill met Gómez while they were both during theater in New York. She’s a first generation citizen from Chicago — her parents having fled from Cuba back in the 1960s. As Gómez explains in her post, Bofill did not have a connection with her Latinx heritage until she moved to New York and was able to meet the local Latinx people in the theater world. She’s the founding member of Labyrinth Theater Company — which received the nickname “Latino Acting Base” or LAB. 

The immigrants in Gómez’s stories are also community leaders who make a difference in the lives of other marginalized people

Instagram / @mslauragomez

Originally from Argentina, Cecilia Gentili is an advocate and community leader. She started off as an intern for the LGBT Community Center in New York City and later managed the Transgender Health Program at the Apicha Community Health Center. Through her work, she has trained thousands of individuals about topics like LGBTQ inclusion, immigration, drug use, sexual health, trans sensitivity, and intersectionality. Truly, Gentili’s work is making her community and other communities more inclusive and safer for marginalized folks. 

Gómez’s Instagram saga is exactly how stars should use their platforms to lift up others with important stories to share. This is what advocacy looks like and we need more show like “Orange Is The New Black” to discuss the issues impacting our world. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsU6sfE_KuQ

Trump Uses Coronavirus Pandemic To Announce He’s Suspending All Immigration To The U.S. And Here’s What You Need To Know

Things That Matter

Trump Uses Coronavirus Pandemic To Announce He’s Suspending All Immigration To The U.S. And Here’s What You Need To Know

Win McNamee / Getty

Donald Trump ran on a campaign pledge to severely limit the rights of migrants and refugees attempting to reach the United States. In office, he wasted no time restricting authorized and unauthorized immigration, with travel bans for citizens of a number of Muslim-majority nations, cutting the numbers of refugees the U.S. accepts, and pushing ahead with plans to build a wall on the southern border.

Now amid a global health pandemic, the president is looking to scapegoat migrant and refugee communities by banning all applications for immigration to the U.S. The move is largely seen as symbolic, however, since the U.S. has already largely stopped processing immigration applications due to reduced capacity.

The White House on Monday announced that President Trump would be signing an executive order to temporarily ban all immigration to the U.S.

President Trump tweeted on Monday that he will pass an executive order to suspend immigration to the United States, claiming that he is seeking to protect jobs in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. Democrats were quick to criticize it as a “dumb move” and pointed to testing as a safe way to reopen the economy. Not to mention that the U.S. is already home to the largest number of cases around the globe.

Trump tweeted: “In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!”

Obviously, since he made the major announcement over Twitter, there is very little clarity over what immigration programs might be impacted. And the White House still hasn’t offered any guidance on what Trump meant by the tweet.

Trump has taken credit for his restrictions on travel to the U.S. from China and hard-hit European countries, arguing it contributed to slowing the spread of the virus in the U.S. But he has yet to extend those restrictions to other nations now experiencing virus outbreaks.

Although the announcement has left many in shock, the U.S. was already severely limiting immigration due to the pandemic.

Already, much of the immigration flow into the country has been paused during the coronavirus pandemic, as the government has temporarily stopped processing all non-worker visas. And, the executive order in its current form will exempt seasonal foreign farm worker visas, one of the largest sources of immigration at the moment.

The administration has already restricted foreign visitors from China, Europe, Canada and Mexico, and has paused processing for immigrants trying to come into the U.S. on non-worker visas because of office closures.

But given the usual chaotic roll out of Trump Administration directives, we still don’t know how long this suspension will last nor what will happen with the applicants already being processed.

Thomas Homan, Trump’s former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told Reuters: “It’s really not about immigration. It’s about the pandemic and keeping our country safer while protecting opportunities for unemployed Americans.”

And it seems the fact that the U.S. already has the largest number of cases on Earth is completely lost on the president.

As of early April, the United States is now home to the largest number of confirmed Covid-19 infections on the planet. There are more than 800,000 cases confirmed by testing and more than 44,000 deaths associated with the virus. In fact, the U.S. now makes up for nearly a third of all Covid-19 infections and a quarter of all deaths.

If Trump wants to make an impact and help flatten the curve in the United States, he should stop promoting the anti-lockdown protests instead of scapegoating immigrant and refugee communities.

Democrats and migrant right’s groups quickly slammed the president’s proposal as xenophobic and counter-productive.

Sen. Kamala Harris of California, also a former 2020 presidential candidate, responded to Trump’s tweet as well, saying the move was “shamelessly politicizing this pandemic to double down on his anti-immigrant agenda.”

“Trump failed to take this crisis seriously from day 1,” she wrote. “His abandonment of his role as president has cost lives. And now, he’s shamelessly politicizing this pandemic to double down on his anti-immigrant agenda. Enough, Mr. President. The American people are fed up.”

Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, a Democrat who ran for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination, said in response, “We don’t need to protect America from immigrants. We need to protect her from you.” Now that’s a pretty legit clapback.

Woman Reunited With Her Parents Because Of Her Son And The Touching Moment Was Caught On Video

Entertainment

Woman Reunited With Her Parents Because Of Her Son And The Touching Moment Was Caught On Video

The immigrant experience in the U.S. is a plethora of stories with different endings. One common storyline in the current immigration crisis is the separation of families. A viral video of Twitter is showing the immigrant experience in a touching and hopeful way.

Luis Cortes Romero, a DACA recipient in California according to his Twitter bio, posted a video of his mother being reunited with her parents for the first time in 30 years. The video starts with a woman being asked to come into another room. When she rounds the corner, she stops dead in her tracks as she tries to take int eh scene before her. After 30 years, she finally got to see her parents again.

Romero is an attorney and, according to the tweet, he always vowed to bring his grandparents to the U.S. to see their daughter. The moment was captured on video and you can feel the emotions coming through the screen.

Romero briefly described the challenges he faced while getting his grandparents visas to come to the U.S.

Credit: @LCortesRomero / Twitter

A parent’s love is something so special and unconditional. Despite his grandfather being deaf, mute, and illiterate, his grandparents took trips by bus every time they tried for a visa. It took five tries before the couple finally had their visas approved for a visit to the U.S.

The family even got to celebrate his birthday while he was visiting.

Credit: @LCortesRomero / Twitter

The smile on his mom’s face says it all. Imagine having to go 30 years without seeing your parents because of your choice to immigrate or a better life. So many immigrants sacrifice their families, friends, and everything they know in order to achieve a better life for them and their families. The video shows the emotional toll that the immigration experience can take on a family.

People on social media are showering Romero with so much respect.

Credit: @serrrg_ / Twitter

The Twitter video shows so much love and family unity. It is an intimate look into a life so many Americans will never know or experience. One of overwhelming joy following decades of unfathomable sadness and separation.

The cries from the children seeing their parents are something so many of us can relate to.

Credit: @Maryem77104169 / Twitter

Whether or not you have separated from your parents for decades, it is easy to understand the longing for your parents. There is nothing more comforting than being able to see your parents when something goes wrong. There are so many times as adults that we need to rely on our parents, whether we like to acknowledge it or not.

The separation of families is a moment in American history that we will have to face.

Credit: @IamNurseTrish / Twitter

Immigration advocates have called the separation of families at the southern border is damaging. The psychological damage to the children being taken by their parents is devastating.

Way to go, Luis.

Thank you for being such an exceptional son.

READ: This Video Of A Mexicana And Her Parents Reuniting After 23 Years Is A Reminder That Conservatives Have Immigration Wrong