He's an actor on one of TV's biggest comedies. He's also undocumented.

Bambadjan Bamba is a busy working actor, but when I get him on the phone, it's clear he's also a busy working dad.

"I have to get my daughter home," he says. "Can I call you back in 15 minutes?"

Bamba's toddler daughter happily babbles in the backseat. It's clearly been a fun afternoon with dad. My phone rings exactly 15 minutes later. Bamba is a man of his word.


Image via Define American.

Bamba is a father, husband, and actor.

You may have seen him in a recurring role on the NBC comedy, "The Good Place," and he'll be in the new Marvel film "Black Panther" in February. At 35, Bamba has built an impressive career for himself, and his star is on the rise. Which is why his next big decision comes as somewhat of a surprise.

Image via Define American.

Bambadjan Bamba is a father, husband, actor, and an undocumented immigrant — a fact he's making public for the first time.

Bamba was born on the Ivory Coast. After years of tumultuous political unrest and upheaval, his family left for America where they applied for political asylum. Bamba arrived in the South Bronx at 10 years old and didn't speak a word of English. Television shows and hip-hop music helped him master the language, he says. But he made new friends and had a childhood much like anyone else's in his new home. He was even homecoming king.

"I consider myself American," he says. "I'm as American as it gets. I love this nation. I really trust that the people definitely love me back."

Image via Define American.

Bamba didn't know much about his immigration status until he started applying for college. That's because while Bamba lived a typical American childhood, his parents wrestled with the immigration process. After applying for asylum and waiting years for a response, the family was denied. The Bambas then consulted an immigration lawyer to assist them with their case. More than 20 years after the process started, their asylum request was granted. However, by then, Bamba's father had passed away, and Bambadjan was over 21 and married, which affected his status on the application.

While he'd been a rider on the request every single time, when it finally went through, he was left off.

Bambadjan is officially undocumented, but protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, better known as DACA.

Established under the Obama administration in 2012, DACA allows some who arrived in the U.S. illegally as minors to receive a two-year deferred action from the deportation, which also makes them eligible to attend school and receive a work permit. More than 800,000 people are enrolled in the program.

However, on Sept. 5, 2017, Trump announced he was rolling back DACA, putting thousands of individuals and families at risk.

"When it happened, honestly, I was shocked," Bamba says.

Image via Define American.

After serious backlash to his initial announcement — as many beneficiaries entrusted the government with information about themselves and their families in the hopes it would not be used against them — Trump said he'd revisit DACA in six months, unless Congress "fixes" it sooner. That's left many people like Bamba in serious limbo.

That's why Bamba is coming out as undocumented and sharing his immigration story.

By every measure, people enrolled in DACA, also known as "Dreamers" after the DREAM Act bill, are an asset to this country. In a survey of approximately 3,000 DACA enrollees, 90% of respondents were employed. Without DACA, the United States stands to lose $460 billion in gross domestic product over the next decade. That's just one of the reasons 56% of registered voters feel Dreamers should be allowed to stay.

"We're your neighbors. We're teaching your kids. We're everyday people trying to provide for their families," Bamba says. "That way Americans can say, 'Hey I don't know an undocumented person,' but hey, you know me. And you know the hundreds of others who are sharing this story every day."

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images.

But even if DACA is saved, what of the millions of immigrants who reside in this country who aren't covered under the program? Bamba's family is the perfect example that the process can take years — even when everything is done "the right way." The system is broken.

"There are millions of people here, who are basically second-class citizens, who are hiding in the shadows, who are being exploited ... who are fleeing war, who are fleeing persecution," Bamba says. "The same way Europeans back in the day came to America for shelter and protection, America is still a land of liberty. America has to accept those people. Just because they're from different places now, doesn't mean they don't deserve the same kind of protections, the same kind of opportunities to live the American dream."

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images.

Before we part ways, I can't help but ask Bambadjan what his personal "good place" looks like, a corny nod to his hit show (which was just renewed for a third season). He indulges me.

"My good place really looks like an Earth with no evil," he says. "We can do anything we want, but ... there's complete trust. There's just freedom to be happy, to do what you love and not worry about someone having to kill you or chase you down. A place where there's no more fear."

His daughter babbles in the background, as if to cheer him on. She's the reason he works hard and loves hard. And with DACA in limbo, Bamba will have to fight hard too. But for now, this sweet family will enjoy the afternoon and work to make their good place a reality.

Image via Define American.

Get to know Bambadjan as he shares his story for the first time in this powerful video.

If you think Hollywood should stand with immigrants, sign this petition and join the movement with Define American.

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Truth

Don't test on animals. That's something we can all agree on, right? No one likes to think of defenseless cats, dogs, hamsters, and birds being exposed to a bunch of things that could make them sick (and the animals aren't happy about it, either). It's no wonder so many people and organizations have fought to stop it. But did you ever think that maybe brands are testing products on us too, they're just not telling us they're doing it?

I know, I know, it sounds like a conspiracy theory, but that's exactly what e-cigarette brands like JUUL (which corners the e-cigarette market) are doing in this country right now, and young people are on the frontlines of the fallout. Most people assume that the government would have looked at devices that allow people to inhale unknown chemicals into their lungs BEFORE they hit the market. You would think that someone in the government would have determined that they are safe. But nope, that hasn't happened. And vape companies are fighting to delay the government's ability to evaluate these products.

So no one really knows the long-term health effects of e-cigarette use, not even JUUL's CEO, nor are they informing the public about the potential risks. On top of that, according to the FDA, there's been a 78% increase in e-cigarette usage among high school and middle school-aged children in just the last two years, prompting the U.S. Surgeon General to officially recognize the trend as an epidemic and urge action against it.

These facts have elicited others to take action, as well.

Truth Initiative, the nonprofit best known for dropping the real facts about smoking and vaping since 2000 through its truth campaign. We don't do PSAs. We also need to update so to explain truth – the nonprofit behind the truth youth smoking prevention campaign – you could also say this in a funny way – best known for sharing the facts about smoking and vaping or pull from some old campaigns. Just layer in a description of truth and who the campaign is., is now on a mission to confront e-cigarette brands like JUUL about the lack of care they've taken to inform consumers of the potential adverse side effects of their products. And they're doing it with the help of animal protesters who are tired of seeing humans treated like test subjects.

The March Against JUUL | Tested On Humans | truth www.youtube.com

"No one knows the long-term effects of JUULing so any human who uses one is being used as a lab rat," says, appropriately, Mario the Sewer Rat.

"I will never stop fighting JUUL. Or the mailman," notes Doug the Pug, the Instagram-famous dog star.

Truth, the national counter-marketing campaign for youth smoking prevention, hopes this fuzzy, squeaky, snorty animal movement arms humans with the facts about vaping and inspires them to demand transparency from JUUL and other e-cigarette companies. You can get your own fur babies involved too by sharing photos of them wearing protest gear with the hashtag #DontTestOnHumans. Here's some adorable inspo for you:

The dangerous stuff is already out there, but with knowledge on their side, young people will hopefully make the right choices and fight companies making the wrong ones. If you need more convincing, here are the serious facts.

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Sixteen-year-old Luka Kinard, a former frequent e-cigarette-user, is one of the many teens who experienced severe side effects. "Vaping was my biggest addiction," he told NowThis. "It lasted for about 15 months of my high school career." In 2018, Kinard was hospitalized after having a seizure. He also had severe nausea, chest pains, and difficulty breathing.

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Teens are 16 times more likely to use e-cigarettes than adults, and four times more likely to take up traditional smoking as a result, according to truth, and yet the e-cigarette market remains virtually unregulated and untested. In fact, companies like JUUL continue to block and prevent FDA regulations, investing more than $1 million in lawyers and lobbying efforts in the last quarter alone.

Photo by Lindsay Fox/Pixabay

Consumers have a right to know what they're putting in their bodies. If everyone (and their pets) speaks up, the e-cigarette industry will have to make a change. Young people are already taking action across the country. They're hosting rallies nationwide and on October 9 as part of a National Day of Action, young people are urging their friends and classmates to "Ditch JUUL." Will you join them?

For help with quitting e-cigarettes, visit thetruth.com/quit or text DITCHJUUL to 88709 for free, anonymous resources.

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