Earlier this year, Raisa wrote an essay for MarieClaire.com where the American-born star described how her grandmother, mother and her mother’s siblings came to the U.S. in 1981 to escape her abusive grandfather in Mexico. Raisa’s father came to America from Honduras in 1982 after his parents died.
Her mother become a citizen through President Ronald Reagan’s Immigration Reform and Control Act, which gave undocumented immigrants in the county before 1982 a path to citizenship. Her father Renan Almendarez, now an Los Angeles radio personality known as “El Cucuy de la Mañana ” got his green card through his employer and later became a citizen.
Who I am
The “Grown-ish” star grew up in Los Angeles in a bilingual family, which includes two younger sisters. She didn’t realize she was different.
“It was just a part of me,” Raisa, 30, says. “We spoke Spanish at home. I ate Mexican food every single day. There wasn’t a day without frijoles on the stove or tortillas.”
Then when she in high school, someone told her, “We’re in America. Speak English.” Raisa’s response was to embrace her culture even more.
She loves Mexican music and enjoys teaching friends about her culture and her language. “Anytime I can bring my culture into anything, whether its food, music, style, I do it,” she says. “It’s who I am.”
Raisa knows how hard it can be for legal and illegal immigrants and their children in the United States. She was encouraged by former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) plan, which allowed children of undocumented immigrants, who came to the county as minors to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred deportation.
When President Donald Trump announced he wasn’t going to continue DACA, Raisa was fired up.
“It’s inhumane, it’s not fair and it’s not part of who we are as Americans,” she says, noting many “Dreamers” have told her they feel they’re being blamed for something they didn’t choose.
Raisa encourages people to get educated, support each other, and vote in local and national elections.
“We need to unite more than ever,” she says. “We need to not be ashamed of our culture.”