Wilmer Valderrama won over our hearts for his portrayal of Fez, the token foreigner in That '70s Show. For Immigrant Heritage Month, the actor, now 36, is now using his own experience as a first-generation American to shed light on the contentious topic of immigration.
"We immigrants never forget the sacrifices — every single sacrifice that your mom and your dad has ever made ... to have a plate of food in front of you. We don't forget these things," Valderrama said in a video for NowThis.
Contrary to the oft-heard argument that immigrants come to the United States to leech off the welfare system, Valderrama said that it was the complete opposite when his family moved here in the early 1990s.
"My dad made it very clear that we came here to work," he said.
Valderrama recalled when he auditioned for his first pilot, That '70s Show, and got a call from his agent to come back the next day — "and the day after that, and the day after that."
His hard work paid off: That '70s Show was a hit, and playing one of the leading male characters, Valderrama could now repay his parents for their sacrifices.
Valderrama said his success — from the child of immigrants to a sitcom star — exemplified what America was supposed to be.
"There is a really misguided and ignorant number of sentences that follow the word 'immigration,' " Valderrama said. "Unfortunately, a lot of young people are growing up with the word 'immigration' being somehow negative. When really, it's the biggest gift that this country has ever had."