Selena Gomez Pens Essay About Immigration: 'I Feel Afraid for My Country'
By Leena Tailor
Emma McIntyre/Getty Images
Selena Gomez has penned a touching essay on immigration, sharing how she feels afraid for the future of the country.
The 27-year-old singer shared her family history and escalating concerns in an editorial published by Time on Tuesday, in which she emphasized that immigration isn’t just about politics.
“It is a human issue, affecting real people, dismantling real lives,” she writes. “How we deal with it speaks to our humanity, our empathy, our compassion. How we treat our fellow human beings defines who we are.”
Gomez commenced her essay by explaining how her aunt crossed the Mexican border into the U.S. while hidden in a truck in 1970, with her grandparents soon following. Gomez’s father was subsequently born in Texas, with Gomez entering the world as a U.S. citizen in 1992, “thanks to their bravery and sacrifice.”
“Over the past four decades, members of my family have worked hard to gain United States citizenship,” Gomez writes. “Undocumented immigration is an issue I think about every day, and 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.”
While she acknowledged that she’s no expert and that immigration requires rules and regulations, she urged people to remember that America was formed by people who came from other countries.
Noting the importance of getting educated about those being impacted by immigration policies, Gomez explained how she got involved in a documentary series called Living Undocumented in 2017.
The project, which was co-directed by Aaron Saidman and Anna Chai, followed eight immigrant families who were facing possible deportation and the struggles they went through on a day-to-day basis. Watching the footage of the series, which will be released on Netflix on Oct. 2, was deeply emotional for the “Back to You” singer.
“It captured the shame, uncertainty, and fear I saw my own family struggle with,” she says. “But it also captured the hope, optimism, and patriotism so many undocumented immigrants still hold in their hearts despite the hell they go through.”
Recently, Gomez met with three of the young people who were featured in the documentary series, which she produced alongside her mom, Mandy Teefey. One was a girl named Bar, who escaped violence in Tel Aviv as a baby (and had recently been viciously robbed but wouldn't tell police in case they discovered she’s undocumented) and the others were two brothers, Pablo and Camilo, who were in hiding after their father left work one day and ended up detained by ICE and eventually sent back to Colombia.
“I’m concerned about the way people are being treated in my country,” Gomez concludes. “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. I hope that Bar gets to study interior design. I hope that Pablo and Camilo can return home and sleep at night.”