52 Latino Celebs Whose Parents are Immigrants

In recent years, the debate over immigration has reached a fever pitch, with leaders in both political parties, civil rights activists and even celebrities speaking up to offer their two centavos on this critical issue.

But while there’s no simple way to resolve the matter, it’s important to remember our nation’s rich history when it comes to immigrants. After all, it’s been said that the United States is a "nation of immigrants." In fact, some of our biggest and brightest Latino luminaries have roots outside the U.S. of A.

Here’s a look at 52 Latinos who are the children of immigrants.

MORE: Everything You Need To Know About DREAMers



The Orange is the New Black actress was born in Jersey with Colombian roots. She has become a huge immigration reform activist because of her personal experience of having her parents and brother deported when she was 14-years-old. The 31-year-old actress also wrote In the Country We Love: My Family Divided, a novel based on her personal story dealing with the heartbreak of being separated from her family. 



Amara La Negra

The Love and Hip Hop celebrity was raised by her single mother and has been very vocal about her mother's struggle to emigrate from the Dominican Republic to the United States in hopes of providing a better future for her. 


America Ferrera

She may have portrayed the Mexican American Betty Suarez on ABC’s Ugly Betty, but America Ferrera is actually Honduran American. The Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning actress, who was born and raised in Los Angeles, is the daughter of Honduran nationals who immigrated to the United States in the mid 1970s.


Junot Díaz

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Díaz, who was born in the Dominican Republic, spent most of his early years living with his madre and abuelitos in Santo Domingo while his father worked in the U.S. In 1974, the author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao immigrated to Middlesex County, New Jersey, to stay with his father. Despite an avid interest in reading books as child, he didn’t begin writing until he was much older, after his brother was diagnosed with Leukemia. “A part of the way I stayed connected to my brother was writing these enormous, ridiculous letters about what was going on about our lives, about the neighborhood, and in some ways my complete love of reading had prepared me for the moment that my brother’s illness provided, which was an excuse to now participate in the form I loved so much,” said Díaz in an interview with The Harvard Advocate. “So that’s how I started actually, writing letters to someone in a hospital.”


Louis C.K.

With a Hungarian name like Louis Székely, it may be hard to believe that Louis C.K. is Hispanic. But the comedian/actor, who was born in Washington, D.C., does have raices Latinas; Louis C.K.’s father was born in Mexico, the product of a Jewish Hungarian father and Mexican Indian mother. Despite being born in the United States, the creator and star of FX’s comedy series Louie was raised in Mexico City until he was seven years old; and Spanish was his first language.


Gloria Estefan

Gloria Estefan, commonly referred to as the Queen of Latin Pop, is one of the most successful crossover artists of all time. The Grammy winner, who was born in Havana, fled Cuba with her family as a result of the Cuban Revolution. After settling in Miami, Estefan’s father – a soldier and bodyguard for dictator Fulgencio Batista while living in his native country – enlisted in the armed forces and fought in the Vietnam War and took part in the Bay of Pigs Invasion. The “Miss Little Havana” singer was honored with the Ellis Island Congressional Medal of Honor in 1993, the highest award that can be given to a naturalized U.S. citizen.


Alexis Bledel

“Most people think I’m Irish,” professed Alexis Bledel to Latina. But the Houston-born actress is a full-fledged Latina. The former Gilmore Girls star’s father was born and raised in Argentina; her mother was born in Phoenix, but moved to Mexico with her family when she was eight years old. Bledel and her brother were even raised in a Spanish-speaking household. “It’s the only culture my mom knows from life, and my father as well, and they made the decision to raise their children within the context they had been raised in, so we speak Spanish in my parents’ house, and my mom cooks amazing Mexican food.”


Maria Elena Salinas

Maria Elena Salinas, who co-anchors Noticiero Univision, has been heralded as one of the most influential Hispanic journalists in the United States. The Emmy-winning Spanish-language news presenter’s Mexican parents immigrated to the U.S. in the 1940s. During her illustrious career, Salinas – who was born and raised in Los Angeles – has interviewed some of the world’s most powerful politicians, including U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.


Mark Consuelos

Former All My Children star Mark Consuelos, who recently appeared on FX’s American Horror Story: Asylum, was born in Zaragoza, Spain. Consuelos, the youngest of three children, was raised by his Mexican father and Italian mother in Lebanon, Illinois and Tampa, Florida.


Allison Iraheta

During the eighth season of American Idol, Allison Iraheta was hailed the “dark horse” in the competition by judge Paula Abdul and even praised by Simon Cowell. Despite a highly praised performance of Janis Joplin’s version of “Cry Baby” in the Top Four round, the rockera ended up being sent home that week, ending her Idol run as the last girl standing. Iraheta, the youngest of three children to Salvadoran immigrant parents, was born in Glendale, California.


David Archuleta

David Archuleta, who was born in Miami, came thisclose to winning the whole enchilada on the seventh season of American Idol. The baby-faced singer finished in second place to David Cook after a finale that Fox declared had registered 97 million votes. At the time, it was highest total of votes ever recorded in the show's history. The “Crush” singer’s mother, Lupe Maria, is a former salsa singer and dancer who was born in Honduras.


John Leguizamo

John Leguizamo has gained acclaim for his Broadway shows, television specials and stand-up comedy routines about growing up in a rough Queens, New York neighborhood in the Jackson Heights community. “It was an area of Jackson Heights now called Little Colombia but when I arrived it was like a frontier – we were the second Latino family there, the other was Mexican,” the Golden Globe-nominated actor/comedian tells London’s The Telegraph. But Leguizamo was actually born in Bogotá, Colombia and immigrated to New York with his family when he was a child.


Prince Royce

It’s no wonder Prince Royce could earn his third consecutive Premio Lo Nuestro prize for Tropical Male Artist of the Year this week. The Bronx-born singer-songwriter’s parents both hail from the Dominican Republic, the home of bachata. Since releasing his self-titled debut album in March 2010, Prince Royce has become one of today's biggest Latin music stars. He’s since set his sights on an English-language crossover with his follow-up album Phase II, which was released last April. “This is finally the way that I can represent Latinos in a different way,” Prince Royce tells NocheLatina.com. “I want to show what bachata is to people who don’t know Spanish. I think it’s a way of opening that door.”


Elizabeth Gutiérrez

Sure, Elizabeth Gutiérrez has appeared in telenovelas like Venezuela’s Olvidarte Jamas and Mexico’s Corazón salvaje. But the Spanish-speaking actress has a closer connection to Hollywood than you might think. Gutiérrez, the mother of William Levy’s two children, was born in Los Angeles to Mexican parents. Her family moved to Mexico when she was five, but returned to the United States five years later.


Laura Harring

Shhh, don’t tell Donald TrumpLaura Harring’s birth certificate shows the former Miss USA was born in Sinaloa, Mexico. The Mulholland Drive actress’ mother was born in Mexico and raised in the United States. Harring even spent the first decade of her life living south of the border before her family moved to San Antonio. After attending boarding school in Switzerland, Harring moved to El Paso, where she started entering pageants, eventually becoming the first Hispanic woman to win the Miss USA crown.


Michael Trevino

He may portray the son of a prominent family in the fictional town of Mystic Falls, Virginia on the CW’s The Vampire Diaries. But Michael Trevino comes from more humble beginnings. The Montebello, California-born actor’s father was the son of Mexican immigrants; Trevino’s mother hailed from Zacatecas, Mexico. In an interview with Latina.com, he said the best thing about being Mexican is “having authentic Mexican food made by my grandmother.”


Edward James Olmos

Edward James Olmos, an Emmy- and Golden Globe-winner for his supporting role in Miami Vice, was born in Los Angeles to a Mexican American mother and Mexican immigrant father, who left his family and the security of his native country to make a life with his Chicana wife in the U.S. “It was not easy journey,” says Olmos in an interview with the Immigrant Archive Project. “Even though Spanish is spoken here, he tried like crazy to speak English. And even to the day he passed away at the age of 74, he still spoke with a solid accent.”


Sara Paxton

She may look like the typical California Girl, but Sara Paxton comes from what she calls “"a very mixed family.” The former Summerland star’s mother was born and raised in Mexico, while her father is English, Irish and Scottish. Paxton, who was born in the Los Angeles area, has tried but failed to land a Latina role. “I’ve gone on auditions and I’ve been like, 'You know my family’s [Latin]... I’ve spoken a little bit of Spanish, and they’re just like, 'Ha ha ha – that’s good!' And I’m like ‘what?’ she once told Latina.com in an interview, adding: “They’re not going to hire the 'white girl' to play Latina."


Michael Peña

It comes as no surprise that Diego Luna cast Michael Peña as Cesar Chavez in the biopic he’s directing about the labor leader and civil rights activist who co-founded the National Farm Workers Association. Not only does the End of Watch star resemble Chavez, but he has a similar background. Like Chavez, Peña's parents were farmers in their native Mexico. And the Chicago-born actor’s father worked in a button factory after emigrating to the U.S.


Anthony Quinn

The late Anthony Quinn, who died in 2001 at the age of 86, was the first Mexican actor to win an Academy Award and the first Latino to win two Oscars in the same category. He was born in Mexico during the Mexican Revolution. His mother was of Aztec descent; his Irish-Mexican father rode alongside Pancho Villa before eventually becoming a cameraman at a Hollywood movie studio. Born in Chihuahua, Mexico, the Zorba the Greek actor first grew up in El Paso before moving with his family moved to the Los Angeles area.


Sara Ramirez

Sara Ramirez, who earned a Tony for playing the Lady of the Lake in the original Broadway production of Monty Python's Spamalot, was born in Mazatlán to a Mexican father and a half-Irish-American mother. The Grey’s Anatomy star lived in Mexico until the age of eight, when her mother relocated the family to the San Diego area.


Paul Rodriguez

Paul Rodriguez, who has made America laugh for decades with his Latin-themed comedy routines like You're in America now, speak Spanish, was born south of the border. His parents were Mexican ranchers who emigrated to East L.A. when Rodriguez was a child. Prior to becoming a popular stand-up comedian and actor in the 1980s, Rodriguez served in the U.S military and was stationed in Iceland and Minnesota.


Pepe Aguilar

Pepe Aguilar was destined to become a star… The Grammy-winning singer/actor is the son of beloved Mexican actress/ranchera singer Flor Silvestre and "El Charro de México" Antonio Aguilar, who received a Special Golden Ariel award in his native country (the equivalent of a Lifetime Achievement Academy Award) for his “invaluable contribution and spreading of Mexican cinema.” Aguilar, the younger of the couple’s two children, was born in San Antonio.


Kate Von D

Sure, Kat Von D was the star of TLC’s reality television series LA Ink… But the talented tattoo artist was born on the other side of the U.S./Mexico border, in the state of Nuevo León. Her Argentina-born parents were born in Mexico before relocating the familia to the Los Angeles area when Kat Von D was only four. Kat Von D credits her upbringing in Southern California’s strong Latino culture with greatly influencing her tattoo art and style.


Freddy Fender

Before releasing the hit singles "Before the Next Teardrop Falls" and "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights," the late Freddy Fender – who passed away in 2006 at the age of 69 – was just Baldemar Garza Huerta. He was born in the Texas border town of San Benito to a Mexican-immigrant father and Mexican-American mother. Fender made his first radio appearance on his hometown station when he was only 10, singing "Paloma Querida." In his later years, Fender became a member of the Texas Tornadoes, the popular Tejano group that a Grammy for Best Mexican/American Performance in 1990.


Jenni Rivera

Jenni Rivera, who died in a tragic plane crash at the age of 43 last December, was born in Long Beach, California. La Diva de la Banda was the beloved daughter of Mexican illegal immigrants Pedro Rivera and Rosa Saavedra. Rivera, who grew up in a tight-knit musical household, got pregnant at the age of 15. But instead of quitting school, the straight-A student continued on with her education. “Usually, when a young girl is pregnant, she drops out of school and concentrates on being a mother,” said Rivera. “I thought that's what I had to do, but my counselors told me there was no way they would let me drop out. I had too much promise." Rivera would go on to earn a bachelor’s degree in business administration before becoming an internationally acclaimed singer.


Sarah Shahi

Former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader Sarah Shahi was born and raised in the suburbs of Fort Worth, Texas. The beauty-queen-turned-actress, who currently stars opposite Sylvester Stallone in Bullet to the Head, is the daughter of a Spanish mother and Iranian father. Shahi’s father’s family fled Iran two years before the Iranian Revolution. The multicultural beauty is now making sure her son William gets the best of both culturas. ““When I'm not able to be with my son his nanny speaks to him just in Spanish,” Shahi tells Fox News Latino. “And when my mother comes down to visit, she speaks to him just in Farsi.”


Daisy Fuentes

Daisy Fuentes, the first Latina spokesperson to be signed to a worldwide contract at Revlon, was born in Havana, Cuba. When Fuentes was only three years old, her Cuban father and Spanish mother fled Cuba due to the nation’s political upheaval and relocated the family to Madrid. The television host, actress and model’s family would later immigrate to the United States, settling in Harrison, New Jersey. Fuentes, who was voted Homecoming Queen at Harrison High School, would land her first job as a weather anchor for New York City’s Telemundo station before becoming MTV’s first Latina VJ.


Carlos Santana

Carlos Santana, considered one of the greatest guitarists of all time, was born in Jalisco, Mexico. The multiple Grammy- and Latin Grammy-winning musician’s Mexican parents moved the family to Tijuana before immigrating to San Francisco. Santana, who worked several years as a dishwasher in a diner before becoming a full-time musician, gained an immediate following in the Bay City’s music scene after forming the Santana Blues Band in 1966. Santana was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. 


Giselle Fernández

Television journalist Giselle Fernández, who landed her first national news job at CBS News back in 1991, was born in Mexico City. The former Dancing with the Stars contestant and one of the original hosts of Access Hollywood immigrated to the United States with her family when she was only four years old. Fernández, who grew up in the Los Angeles area, studied journalism and government at California State University, Sacramento.


Guillermo Díaz

Guillermo Díaz, currently earning critical acclaim for his role on ABC’s Scandal, was born and raised in New York City’s Washington Heights neighborhood. The Half Baked star’s parents were born in Cuba.


Andy García

Following the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion, Andy García’s parents moved the Cuban-born actor and his older brother to Miami. The Godfather Part III star, who was only five years old at the time, told NewsMax.com in 2006 that he wouldn’t return to his native country until Fidel Castro's reign of tyranny and repression came to an end. "I am opposed to the regime," García said, adding that he wants to come back for a visit but "in honor of all the people who have died and suffered under the [Castro] regime, I'm not able to make that leap."  


Joanna García

Former Reba star Joanna García – who is expecting her first child this May with husband and former New York Yankees star Nick Swisher – was born and raised in Tampa, Florida, a city with strong Cuban roots. While García mom is Spanish-American, her father was born in Cuba. "It’s a huge part of my life," Garcia once told NYDailyNews.com, adding,  "I’m very proud of my heritage in a big way...”


Tony Plana

Ugly Betty star Tony Plana, who guest-starred on Desperate Housewives and Body of Proof in 2011, was born in Havana. His parents, both bankers in their native country, fled Cuba when Plana was a child. They immigrated to the Los Angeles area, where his father worked at a Tootsie Roll factory. During his career, Plana has starred in several Cuba-themed projects, including the television mini-series Fidel, Oliver Stone’s acclaimed film JFK and Andy García’s directorial debut film The Lost City.


Génesis Rodríguez

Hollywood’s rising Latina star Génesis Rodríguez, currently appearing as Marisol in Melissa McCarthy’s hit film Identity Thief, was born and raised in Miami. The model, actress and former telenovela star’s father is Venezuelan actor and singer José Luis Rodríguez, the man better known as “El Puma;” her mother is a former Cuban model.


Morena Baccarin, 33

The United States isn’t Morena Baccarin’s original Homeland. The star of the award-winning Showtime series was actually born in Rio de Janeiro to a Brazilian actress mother and Brazilian journalist father of Italian ancestry. Following her father’s work transfer to New York, the family relocated to the Greenwich Village. Baccarin attended New York City Lab School for Collaborative Studies and Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. She then enrolled in the Juilliard School’s theater program.


Jon Secada

Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Jon Secada was born in Havana, Cuba. His parents immigrated to the United States when the “Just Another Day” singer was only nine and settled in the Cuban community of Hialeah, Florida, where his family managed a coffee shop.  Secada, who attended Miami Dade Community College and the University of Miami, became a skilled jazz musician and was inducted into UM’s Iron Arrow Honor Society before becoming a background singer for Gloria Estefan, the woman who would help launch his career as a solo artist. 


Florencia Lozano

Florencia Lozano, who will be reprising her role as Téa Delgado on the web revival of ABC’s former soap opera  One Life to Live, was born and raised in Princeton, New Jersey. Lozano, who has guest-starred on Ugly Betty, Gossip Girl and Royal Pains, is the daughter of an Argentina-born Spanish teacher.


Steven López, Mark López, Diana López,

Steven López, Mark López and Diana López could be called “American Taekwondo royalty.” The gifted siblings, whose parents were born in Nicaragua and immigrated to the United States in 1972, had their names etched into the annals of sports history eight years ago when they each claimed a world championship title at the 2005 World Taekwondo Championships. Three years later, the siblings would represent the U.S. at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. It was the first time since 1904 that three siblings had been on the same Olympic team.


Raquel Welch

Raquel Welch, who became an insta-sex symbol when she appeared in an animal skin bikini on the poster for her film One Million Years B.C., was born and raised in Chicago. The CSI: Miami guest star’s mother was of English descent; her father, an aeronautical engineer, was born in Bolivia. He immigrated to the United States when he was only 17 years old.


Leo Manzano

Last summer, Leo Manzano helped snap a 44-year medal drought for the United States in men's middle distance running at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. The track and field standout, who was born in Mexico and immigrated to Texas with his family when he was four, kicked off a brilliant sprint in the final stretch of the men’s 1500-meter final to win the gold medal, making him the first American to medal in that event since Jim Ryun finished second at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.


Lupe Ontiveros

The late Lupe Ontiveros, who passed away last summer at the age of 69, once guesstimated that she’d portrayed a maid in 150 projects, including The Goonies. “I'm proud to represent those hands that labor in this country,” America Ferrera’s Real Women Have Curves co-star told The New York Times. I've given every maid I've ever portrayed soul and heart.” Ontiveros, who born in El Paso, was the daughter of middle-class Mexican immigrants. Despite their lack of a formal education and training, her parents owned a tortilla factory and ran two restaurants in the Texas border city.


Jose Canseco

Baseball’s bad boy Jose Canseco, a six-time Major League Baseball All-Star and two-time World Series Champion, was born in Havana, Cuba. Canseco’s family immigrated to the United States in 1965, when the baseball star and his identical twin brother Ozzie were mere infants, and relocated in the Miami area— all to give their children a better life.


Cristina Saralegui

Cristina Saralegui, commonly referred to as “the Spanish Oprah,” was born in Havana. Following the Cuban Revolution, the popular talk show host’s family fled to the U.S. in 1960, settling in Miami’s Key Biscayne. Saralegui, who attended the University of Miami, landed an internship at Vanidades magazine, and eventually became the editor of the Spanish version of Cosmopolitan—all before becoming the internationally recognized host of her Spanish-language talk show, El Show de Cristina.


Michelle Rodriguez

The Fast and the Furious star Michelle Rodriguez, whose character will return from the dead in Fast and Furious 6 this May, was born and raised in San Antonio. The actress known for playing tough girls is the daughter of a native of the Dominican Republic.


Mary Jo Fernández

Former tennis star Mary Jo Fernández, who won two Olympic gold medals in tennis for the United States during her career, was born in the Dominican Republic to parents who were immigrants to the island nation. Her father hailed from Spain; her mother was from Cuba. She and her family would eventually immigrate to the United States; and Fernández, who graduated from Miami’s Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart, first earned the attention of the tennis world after winning four consecutive Orange Bowl junior titles. She turned pro as a teenager in 1986 and reached a career-high world ranking of No. 4 in October 1990. Since her retirement from the game in 2000, Fernández has become a popular tennis commentator and the coach of the U.S. Fed Cup team.


Gabe Saporta

Cobra Starship front man Gabe Saporta, who recently announced his engagement to fashion designer Erin Fetherston, was born in Uruguay. His parents, both from Jewish families, had fled Europe during World War II and relocated in South America. Saporta’s family immigrated to the U.S. when he was only four, living in Queens, New York and Springfield, New Jersey. 


Madeleine Stowe

It’s no wonder Madeleine Stowe, who was born and raised in the Los Angeles area, masterfully portrays socialite Victoria Grayson on ABC’s Revenge. The Golden Globe-winning actress’ mother, Mireya, was the member of a prominent family in Costa Rica. According to the country’s Academia Costarricense de Ciencias Genealógicas, Stowe’s mother’s family tree includes a great-great-grandfather who was the younger politico brother of President Juan Rafael Mora Porras; a great-great-grandfather who served as President of Costa Rica for a short time; and a great-great-grandmother who just so happened to be the sister of President José María Montealegre Fernández.


Cote de Pablo

Cote de Pablo, who has won an Imagen Award and ALMA Award for her portrayal of the popular character Ziva David on CBSNCIS, was born in Santiago, Chile. de Pablo’s family moved to the U.S. when she was 10 after her mother landed a job at a Miami-based television network. After graduating from New World School of the Arts, de Pablo studied music and theater at Carnegie Mellon University. Following her short-lived stint in the 2005 Broadway production of The Mambo Kings, which closed during a trial run in San Francisco, de Pablo auditioned for NCIS and landed the role that would bring her international acclaim.


Jordana Brewster

These days Jordana Brewster may be spending time on South Fork, but the Dallas star was born in Panama. Brewster, the daughter of a former Brazilian Sports Illustrated swimsuit model and an American investment banker, moved to London from Panama for six years when she was only two months old. She’d then move to her mother’s homeland until her move to Manhattan at the age of 10. The Fast and the Furious star attended Convent of the Sacred Heart and the Professional Children's School in New York, before attending college at Yale University.


Camilla Belle

From Prada to Nada star Camilla Belle has roots in Fashion. The Los Angeles-born actress is the daughter of a Brazilian-born fashion designer. The actress, who had a breakout role in the pre-historic drama 10,000 BC, attended Marlborough School, an all-girl high school in Los Angeles.


Maiara Walsh

Maiara Walsh, who has most recently shared screen time with Constance Marie in ABC Family’s Switched at Birth, is the daughter of a Brazil-born mother and American father. Walsh, who was born in Seattle, Washington, spent her formative years living in her mother’s native country. But when she was 11, the family moved back to the States so that she could pursue her dream of becoming an actress.