- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Actor Bambadjan Bamba has publicly revealed that he is an undocumented immigrant, telling the Los Angeles Times in an interview Tuesday that he wants to be a voice for DACA recipients working in Hollywood.

Mr. Bamba, who stars in NBC’s “The Good Place” and will play a military leader in the upcoming Marvel film “Black Panther,” said he was motivated to reveal his immigration status after President Trump’s decision in September to end the Obama-era program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which granted temporary resident status to immigrants who entered the country as minors.

“It’s such a controversial issue, but people know nothing about immigration,” Mr. Bamba told the Times. “Hopefully coming out, especially to Hollywood, would help demystify it a little bit. There’s so many people in Hollywood who are immigrants. I don’t know how Hollywood would function without immigrants.

“Immigrants are not criminals,” he said. “We’re not here to take away your jobs. We’re here to give back. We’re not just Mexicans or Latino. We’re black, too. We’re from the Middle East, from Asia, too. We’re your neighbors, your doctors, the teachers of your children, and sometimes we’re on TV in your home, characters that you love. We’re just one of you.

“The only difference is [that you have] a certain piece of paper that’s supposed to allow you to navigate freely in the country,” he added.

Mr. Bamba said he wants Hollywood to play a bigger role in influencing government policy in favor of DACA recipients. He launched a social media campaign Tuesday morning called #StandWithBamba, asking people to sign his petition calling on Hollywood to stand with immigrants. 

“Because Hollywood is so powerful and can change culture, I hope that they would stand with me not just on social media but take concrete actions,” he told Variety.

“My goal is to get a clean Dream Act passed,” he said. “That’s what we are all fighting for right now.”

More than 800 people had signed his petition as of Wednesday afternoon. 

Mr. Bamba said he was 10 years old when he and his family fled a politically unstable Cote D’Ivoire to the U.S. in 1993. He said he decided to speak out now on his immigration status because of the Trump administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration.

“I’m going public first and foremost because I’m sick and tired of living in fear and hiding about this issue,” he said. “I’ve kind of been in this status for 25 years of my life. I remember when the administration decided to cancel DACA — that was the last straw for me because not only am I married, but I have a daughter now. I didn’t feel like I could still sit back and keep hitting the snooze button.”

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