Just this week it was announced that President Trump would be repealing the Obama-era DACA program, which protected nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants from the threat of deportation. As a result, thousands of young immigrants will lose the only life they’ve ever known, being sent off to countries they hardly know anything about living in. In such a horrifying time for American immigrants, perhaps one of the strongest ways to show support is to amplify the voices and stories of those at risk of being deported. With the creation of two new drama TV series centered around the lives of immigrants, Gina Rodriguez is doing just that.
You may know Gina Rodriguez from The CW’s Jane The Virgin, a comedy-drama based on a real telenovela. The show focuses on the life of a young woman who is accidentally inseminated, Jane Villanueva, as well as her reckless mother and conservative grandma. As the main character and her family are Venezuelan-Mexican, there is plenty of Latinx representation in the show, which even introduced an immigration arc regarding Jane’s grandmother.
But apart from acting, Rodriguez has paved quite the path as a TV producer with her end goal being a greater amount of representation for immigrant families and the heart-wrenching struggles they face.
According to Deadline, one of the two of Rodriguez’s projects, Illegal, will air as an hour-long special on The CW sometime in the near future. The drama-comedy will focus on an immigrant teenager and her family faced with the threat of deportation: a situation that directly mirrors what young immigrants are facing in the aftermath of Trump’s DACA decision.
Moreover, Rodriguez’s second project, Have Mercy, tells the story of a Latina doctor who struggles to find work when she immigrates to Miami. Searching for a real medical gig, the doctor begins work as a nurse’s assistant on the side but risks everything when she starts up a makeshift clinic in her own apartment to aid the community. The show will air on CBS in the near future.
Representation for minorities has always been a message preached here at Affinity, and it still rings true in light of recent events. Trump’s decision to repeal DACA will completely and utterly uproot young immigrants from the only real home they’ve ever known, the only life they can remember. A heartbreaking statement by Karen Caudillo, a young DREAMer, relays the message that a dialogue must be created in order for people to realize just how serious the potential dangers for DACA recipients are.
‘I’m gonna be sent back to a country that I’ve never been to and I’m gonna lose every opportunity that I have.’
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) September 7, 2017
“I have a cousin who’s fifteen; she just received DACA. She has her whole life ahead of her, she’s so smart, and now she won’t even be able to enjoy this opportunity. She’ll have DACA ’til she’s seventeen. She won’t even be able to apply for colleges, and she was brought here when she was two…I’m more scared for the younger people…the younger kids who just applied to DACA and just got it…I feel for them.”
— Karen Caudillo via NowThis
The painful picture Caudillo paints is one that will come true if the DREAM Act is not passed. DACA allows young illegal immigrants to get an education, to have more job opportunities, to live their life without fear. If the DREAM Act fails to pass, these kids will have all their opportunities, all their chances at a good life in what is supposedly a free country, wrongfully stolen from them.
Rodriguez’s production of television programs dedicated to displaying the lives of these young immigrants is so vital because it helps increase solidarity for DREAMers when they need it most. Her TV shows will create a dialogue in the entertainment industry about the struggles illegal immigrants face: struggles that nonimmigrants are immensely ignorant about. In a politically-charged atmosphere where even the president cannot (or refuses to) empathize with young immigrants having the floor pulled out from under them, representation indeed is more important than ever.