*Actor Bambadjan Bamba, a native of the Ivory Coast, has revealed publicly for the first time that he is an undocumented immigrant.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Bamba reveals he is among the estimated 11 million undocumented Americans living in the United States, according to Pew research. He’s told very few people of his citizenship status — until now.
Motivated by the Trump administration’s efforts to rescind the Deferrred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, the Obama-era policy that protects the children of immigrants who didn’t enter the country legally, the “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Suicide Squad” and “Black Panther” actor is breaking his silence.
“Immigrants are not criminals,” said Bamba, 35. “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.”
After growing up in the Ivory Coast, the nation became politically unstable in 1993 upon the death of its first president, Félix Houphouët-Boigny. Bamba’s family fled to the United States for protection. At 10, America became his new home.
Twenty-five years later, however, the actor perhaps best known for his recurring role on NBC’s “The Good Place” doesn’t quite feel like an American.
Read his full LA Times Q&A here.