Selena Gomez Pens Poignant Essay About Immigration: ‘I Feel Afraid For My Country’
Selena Gomez is a U.S. citizen because her aunt and grandparents made the brave choice to cross the border in the 1970s. In a poignant essay about immigration written for Time, the pop star credits their "bravery and sacrifice" as the reason why she lives in America.
"Over the past four decades, members of my family have worked hard to gain United States citizenship," she wrote. "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."
She went on to talk about how immigration has become a divisive topic in America, but to her it's so much more than politics. "It is a human issue, affecting real people, dismantling real lives," she declared. "How we deal with it speaks to our humanity, our empathy, our compassion. How we treat our fellow human beings defines who we are."
"I don’t claim to be an expert. 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," she continued. "It’s time to listen to the people whose lives are being directly affected by immigration policies. It’s time to get to know the individuals whose complex stories have been reduced to basic headlines."
From there, Gomez detailed her work producing the netflix docuseries Living Undocumented, a show that shines a light on eight families all facing possible deportation. She said she cried when she heard what the subjects had been through, from hiding out for fear of being deported to witnessing their parents get treated like animals in ICE detention centers.
"I’m concerned about the way people are being treated in my country," she stated. "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."
"When I signed on to executive produce a show about undocumented immigrants, I couldn’t help but anticipate the criticisms I might face. But the truth is, the worst criticism I can imagine is still nothing compared to what undocumented immigrants face every day," she concluded her essay. "Fear shouldn’t stop us from getting involved and educating ourselves on an issue that affects millions of people in our country."
Gomez has been outspoken about the country's immigration issue, encouraging fans to help take a stand when it was revealed that immigrants were being subjected to inhumane conditions in ICE detainment centers in June.
Read her full essay here.