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Singer and actress Selena Gomez has revealed that her aunt and grandparents had come to the United States from Mexico without documentation, writing “it [immigration] is a human issue, affecting real people, dismantling real lives.”
Ahead of the release of her new series “Living Undocumented,” Gomez penned in an emotional essay in Time Magazine that her aunt crossed the border hidden in the back of a truck in the 1970s. Her grandparents followed shortly thereafter, and her father was born in Texas. While Gomez was born a U.S. citizen, she said that undocumented immigration is constantly on her mind as she has watched members of her family work toward gaining U.S. citizenship.
“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,” Gomez wrote. “But when I read the news headlines or see debates about immigration rage on social media … I feel afraid for my country.”
The singer said discussions surrounding immigration are often reduced to political debates, without regard to the people most affected by policy, which is why she signed on to executive produce “Living Undocumented.”
“It [immigration] is a human issue, affecting real people, dismantling real lives,” Gomez wrote. “How we treat our fellow human beings defines who we are.”
“Living Undocumented,” which premiered on Netflix on Wednesday, is a series that follows the lives of eight families residing in the U.S. without papers. In her opinion piece, Gomez introduces some of the main characters: a dreamer named Bari whose family left Israel when she was six months old to escape violence in Tel Aviv, and brothers Pablo and Camilo Dunoyer whose family fled Colombia in 2002 to seek asylum when their family was repeatedly threatened by narcoguerillas.
All three of these people are living in fear and hiding, according to Gomez. After being detained by ICE and kept in a "cage" with other immigrants, Gomez wrote, Roberto Dunoyer, the brothers’ father, was deported to Colombia despite the narcoguerillas' threats.
“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,” Gomez wrote. “And I hope that getting to know these eight families and their stories will inspire people to be more compassionate.”
Gomez, who has a significant following and was the first person to reach 100 million followers on Instagram, currently also executive produces the Netflix series, “13 Reasons Why.”
While she acknowledges that she doesn’t work in the immigration system and does see a need for rules and regulations, she urges others to educate themselves about the state of immigration in the U.S.
“Fear didn’t stop my aunt from getting into the back of that truck,” Gomez wrote. “And for that, I will always be grateful.”