OITNB’s Diane Guerrero has an awesome message for young Latinos

When Diane Guerrero was 14, her parents and older brother were deported to Colombia — leaving her without her family and alone in the United States.

“I came home from school to an empty house,” she wrote in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times last year. “Lights were on and dinner had been started, but my family wasn’t there. Neighbors broke the news that my parents had been taken away by immigration officers, and just like that, my stable family life was over.”

Since telling her story, the incredibly talented actress behind Maritza Ramos on Orange is the New Black and Lina on Jane the Virgin has become an extremely outspoken advocate for immigration form. And now, Guerrero has teamed up with non-profit organization Mi Familia Vota for an amazing video encouraging young Latinos to vote in 2016.

“My vote is my voice, and I am demanding to be heard,” she says in the video. “There are millions of people who aren’t registered to vote even though they’re eligible. And if Latinos don’t vote, politicians will ignore us. They won’t pass fair immigration laws to keep our families together. And they won’t even guarantee equal pay for women.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Latinos represent the largest minority group in the United States. People of Hispanic origin make up 17% of the U.S. population — but based on the 2012 presidential election, only 8.4% of voters. Guerrero’s new campaign aims to change this, and to prove that to vote means to make your voice heard.

“I think it’s really, really important for you to pay attention this year because it’s really going to dictate how you’re going to have your life for the next four years,” Guerrero said in an interview with The Huffington Post. “It’s really important to participate. If you’re not voting for the people who have your best interest in mind, then you’re doing something wrong.”

No matter what issues matter to you most, it has never been more essential that we vote for the candidates that best represent us and our beliefs. The Mi Familia Vota video also feels especially essential given that Hispanic women face one of the largest, gender-based wage gaps in America: An estimated 55 cents to the white man’s dollar. (Comparatively, Hispanic men still make 67 cents to the dollar — which is also inexcusable.) We need to change these numbers, and work towards closing the gap once and for all.

“I am ready to prove to politicians that we cannot be ignored,” Guerrero says in the video. “Let’s show them that we are ready.”

Watch the video for yourself below — and if you haven’t already, you can register to vote right here.

My fellow young women: We NEED to get out and vote — and here’s why

This awesome city is thinking about lowering the voting age to 16

Here’s why voting in the midterm elections really matters

(Image via video.)