“How we deal with it speaks to our humanity, our empathy, our compassion,” Gomez writes. “How we treat our fellow human beings defines who we are.”
Selena Gomez is sharing her own very powerful family origin story.
On Monday, the actress, 27, wrote an op-ed for Time magazine where she shared how her family immigrated to America and addressed the ongoing immigration crisis.
“In the 1970s, my aunt crossed the border from Mexico to the United States hidden in the back of a truck,” Selena Gomez began in the essay. “My grandparents followed, and my father was born in Texas soon after. In 1992, I was born a U.S. citizen thanks to their bravery and sacrifice. Over the past four decades, members of my family have worked hard to gain United States citizenship.”
“Undocumented immigration is an issue I think about every day,” she continued. “I never forget how blessed I am to have been born in this country thanks to my family and the grace of circumstance. But when I read the news headlines or see debates about immigration rage on social media, I feel afraid for those in similar situations. I feel afraid for my country.”
The singer — who is an executive producer on the new Netflix docu-series “Living Undocumented” — expressed how she believes the immigration issue “goes beyond politics” and is a “human issue.”
“Immigration is a divisive political issue,” Gomez wrote. “It’s the subject of endless arguments and countless news stories. But immigration goes beyond politics and headlines. It is a human issue, affecting real people, dismantling real lives. How we deal with it speaks to our humanity, our empathy, our compassion. How we treat our fellow human beings defines who we are.”
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I am so humbled to be a part of Netflix’s documentary series Living Undocumented. The immigration issue is more complex than one administration, one law or the story you hear about on the news. These are real people in your community, your neighbors, your friends – they are all part of the country we call home. I can’t wait for you guys to see this and hope it impacts you like it impacted me. Available globally October 2. ❤️
The former Disney star, who admitted she’s not an “expert” on the issue, explained that it’s time to learn the stories of the individuals being affected by the crisis.
“I don’t claim to be an expert,” Gomez said. “I’m not a politician, I’m not a doctor, and I don’t work in the system at all. I understand it’s flawed and that we need rules and regulations, but we also have to remember that our country was formed by people who came here from other countries.”
The singer recalled being approached in 2017 to get involved in the docu-series — which focuses on eight immigrant families facing possible deportation — and how she broke down when she first saw footage from the show as it reminded her of her own family’s hardships.
“I watched footage outlining their deeply personal journeys and I cried,” Gomez wrote. “It captured the shame, uncertainty, and fear I saw my own family struggle with. But it also captured the hope, optimism, and patriotism so many undocumented immigrants still hold in their hearts despite the hell they go through.”
After briefly describing a few heartbreaking stories documented in the series, Gomez explained why she ultimately feels a “responsibility” to speak about this global issue.
“I’m concerned about the way people are being treated in my country,” she said. “As a Mexican-American woman I feel a responsibility to use my platform to be a voice for people who are too afraid to speak. And I hope that getting to know these eight families and their stories will inspire people to be more compassionate, and to learn more about immigration and form their own opinion.”
Gomez concluded the powerful essay by expressing that although she might receive backlash over the show or her op-ed, it’s “nothing” in comparison to what the undocumented immigrants suffer through.
“When I signed on to executive produce a show about undocumented immigrants, I couldn’t help but anticipate the criticisms I might face,” she wrote. “But the truth is, the worst criticism I can imagine is still nothing compared to what undocumented immigrants face every day. Fear shouldn’t stop us from getting involved and educating ourselves on an issue that affects millions of people in our country. Fear didn’t stop my aunt from getting into the back of that truck. And for that, I will always be grateful.”
Read Gomez’s full essay here.
“Living Undocumented” is streaming now on Netflix.