Bambadjan Bamba, an actor best known for his recurring role in The Good Place, has publicly revealed that he is an undocumented immigrant.
Brought to the U.S. by his parents at age 10 after civil war broke out in their native Cote D’Ivoire, Bamba, now 35, told the Los Angeles Times he is registered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and was motivated to share his story in the wake of President Trump moving to end the program, which was implemented by the Obama administration in 2012.
“Immigrants are not criminals,” Bamba told the newspaper. “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.”
Bamba arrived in the U.S. in 1993 and said it wasn’t until he began applying for college and couldn’t get financial aid that he realized his status. Although he felt a small measure of relief when President Obama passed DACA, Trump’s recent move to kill the program had Bamba wondering if his career and time in the country were in jeopardy. Asked about his first thoughts after hearing the news, he said, “‘We’re back here again.’ [Being undocumented] is like this thing you want to forget, but you keep getting reminded of.”
He added of his decision to come out as DACA, “There’s all this fear that’s being perpetuated. We just can’t be scared anymore.”
Currently popping up via flashbacks on NBC’s The Good Place as Chidi’s (William Jackson Harper) tortured best friend, Bamba has also been seen in Grey’s Anatomy, Parenthood, and Suicide Squad. He returns to the superhero world for a small role in the upcoming Marvel film Black Panther.
“America really has to stand for immigrants now,” Bamba told the Times. “At the bottom line, this is an immigrant nation. It was founded by immigrants. America said, ‘Bring me your poor. Bring me your downtrodden. Bring me all those who are being persecuted, and they will have a safe place.’ That’s still valid today even though the immigrants that are coming are not all from Europe anymore. I believe America has a responsibility to those words and those ideals.”
Read Bamba’s full interview at the Los Angeles Times.