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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.

18-year-old Gaspar Marcos spends his day at school, puts in eight hours of work after that, and then tries to fit in at least three hours of sleep before doing it all over again.

Gaspar is a sophomore at Belmont High School in Los Angeles. He also works full-time as a dishwasher in the evenings and pays $600 a month for a room he rents from a family. His struggles are very real.


Image via Los Angeles Times/Facebook.

Gaspar is from Guatemala — one of at least 100,000 kids who came to the U.S. from Central America in the past five years as a result of a raging and increasingly violent drug war between cartels and police.

Many have made the dangerous trek alone, leaving their parents behind. Gaspar was one of those children, having lost both his parents when he was 5; he made his way to the U.S. at 13.

The Los Angeles Times spent 19 hours with Gaspar to tell his story. The video they created has been viewed over 10 million times so far on Facebook.

The reaction to Gaspar's story was fast and powerful. Immediately after the L.A. Times shared the video of his story on its Facebook page, people rushed to offer him a place to stay and monetary contributions.

Cynthia Salinas/Facebook, used with permission.

Terrie Byone Moulds/Facebook, used with permission.

Gloria Velasquez/Facebook, used with permission.

The L.A. Times was quick to recognize the outpouring of support.

Federico Bustamante, a program administrator for Casa Libre, a shelter for undocumented youth in L.A., set up a GoFundMe page to help Gaspar.

The money will help cover his everyday expenses as well as go toward college tuition. Federico said that he's been a guardian, mentor, teacher, big brother, and friend to Gaspar and other undocumented students. He jokes that he's also Gaspar's agent given his sudden internet fame and the subsequent outpouring of support.

The We Stand With Gaspar campaign has raised nearly $19,000 from over 400 people as of July 27, 2016. Gaspar was so overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers that he recorded the video message below saying it's great to feel loved and visible in this world.

Not only is Gaspar undeterred in his quest to work hard to get ahead, but he's also incredibly selfless. In his thank you video, he said that he understands it's not just about him, but about young people like him facing the same situation. That's why he's donating 50% of the donations made to his GoFundMe page to help some of his undocumented classmates and other immigrant teens at Casa Libre so that they, too, can have more free time for schoolwork.

Federico said about the campaign, "We have become of vital importance to our immigrant community and the refugee boys we've helped to house and empower, like Gaspar ... so you can understand that Gaspar and the rest of my students inspire me to heights far beyond GoFundMe."

Gaspar's story puts a real face to a real issue.

Many undocumented people like Gaspar are determined individuals looking to better their situation by working hard and educating themselves in order to thrive. It's challenging for them to do it on their own, especially when they are teens. But thanks to loving members of the community and the kindness of people on the internet, Gaspar is able to attain a slice of the American Dream.

If you want to help Gaspar and fellow undocumented youth, consider donating to his GoFundMe page.

More

Why are 34,000 people being forced to wear orange Crocs?

A federal mandate that requires a minimum number of undocumented immigrants be detained each night.

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Open Society Foundations

A dumb federal rule strikes again!

Law enforcement officers are forced to arrest undocumented immigrants thanks to a congressional mandate that requires 34,000 be held in detention centers every single night. A person can commit no crime other than not being here legally and be arrested and detained simply to fill a quota. So every day, 34,000 people are sitting in detention centers, wearing jumpsuits and orange Crocs that you paid for.


And it's a $2 billion problem.

Every year, 2 billion of your tax dollars are spent holding those undocumented immigrants and illegal border crossers, many for no reason other than their undocumented status. Almost 400,000 are detained every year. And guess what? That's twice as many as five years ago.

It causes extreme hardship.

Besides life being difficult for the person detained, their family also suffers. It's hard to visit a detained person because most detention centers are remote and require travel. And the family loses the detained person's income.

We're not talking about murderers here.

Barbie is married to an undocumented immigrant who was detained. She couldn't believe how much weight he'd lost and how he'd changed when she first saw him. And, as she says, it's as though they're imprisoned for murder. Except they're not.

So why is this happening? Oh, that's right! Follow the money.

Make no mistake. These quotas weren't implemented to keep us safe. No. They're the result of a profit-making system — one that pays private companies up to $120 a night per detainee.

Those 34,000+ pairs of orange Crocs are, well, a crock.

I don't think anyone would deny that dangerous criminals need to be kept off the streets. But gathering up hundreds of thousands of people to make a buck — costing you and me 2 billion bucks a year — isn't right.

How do we fix this?

First of all, we need to change the federal mandate. There's no reason to detain people for the sole purpose of filling beds (unless you think lining the pockets of private companies is a reason, which I'm sure you don't). Like Janet Napolitano said, detainment should be directly related to the threat to public safety and the offense. If someone is not a threat to public safety and hasn't committed an offense beyond being undocumented, detention doesn't make a lot of sense.

Others suggest securing the borders so that fewer undocumented immigrants come to the U.S. Because while the number of people detained annually has doubled in the last five years, the number of apprehensions at the border has dipped 50% in the same period. Is it possible that it's more profitable for certain companies if we detain people once they're here versus preventing them from coming in the first place? I dunno. But it's worth considering.

Watch the video and decide for yourself. Is this how you want your tax dollars spent?

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He called 911 when he needed help. He will always regret it.

When we have an emergency or need help, most of us call 911. Well, some people can't do that.

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Open Society Foundations

You need help, you call 911, right?

Nope. For some people, calling 911 — even though they need the police to help them and even though they are the victims — isn't an option.


Imagine calling for help ... and then being punished.

Miguel called the police and found himself in trouble because he's an undocumented immigrant, even though he was the one who called and asked for help.

A federal immigration policy called Secure Communities has local law enforcement fingerprint individuals and then share the fingerprints with a federal immigration agency. That means that any contact an undocumented immigrant has with police can lead to that person's detainment and deportation.

So the thing they're doing wrong is calling the police? Yep.

When people learn what happens, they stop asking for help.

Miguel says he wouldn't do it again and wouldn't recommend other undocumented immgrants call, either.

And that means offenders aren't facing consequences for their crimes.

It's pretty easy to see how this hurts all of us, isn't it?

States and cities are fighting back.

Because implementing Secure Communities is making it difficult for local law enforcement agents, like police officers, to do their jobs, many cities and states are passing laws and rules that limit their cooperation with Secure Communities.

But that's just more wasted taxpayer money.

So now states and cities are spending local taxpayer money to pass laws to avoid enforcing federal programs. Excellent use of time and money, amirite?! Uhhhh, no. And more importantly, there's the issue of people not being able to ask for help. You can watch the video and share this post if you see the problem here.