Selena Gomez opens up about her family immigrating illegally in powerful essay

2 October 2019, 17:13

Sam  Prance

By Sam Prance

Selena Gomez's new Netflix docuseries Living Undocumented tells the real stories of undocumented immigrants in the US.

Selena Gomez has written about her family's experiences with immigration in a candid essay about Living Undocumented.

Selena Gomez may be one of the most successful popstars in the entire world right now but the 27-year-old is also a brilliant actress, philanthropist and executive producer. Since her Wizards of Waverly Place days, Selena has starred in over 20 films, worked closely with A21 to fight human trafficking and executive produced 13 Reasons Why. Now Selena is working as an executive producer on Netflix's new docuseries, Living Undocumented, about undocumented immigrants in the US.

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Alongside the Living Undocumented premiere today, Selena wrote an essay for Time about immigration and how we need to educate ourselves so that we can help people who are being imprisoned in ICE detention centres and deported.

Selena Gomez opens up about her family immigrating in Living Undocumented essay
Selena Gomez opens up about her family immigrating in Living Undocumented essay. Picture: Foc Kan/FilmMagic, @selenagomez via Instagram

In the powerful essay, Selena writes honestly about how her family immigrated to the US: "In the 1970s, my aunt crossed the border from Mexico to the United States hidden in the back of a truck. 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." She then explains: "Over the past four decades, members of my family have worked hard to gain United States citizenship."

Selena goes on to write: "I feel afraid for those in similar situations. I feel afraid for my country." She continues: "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."

Selena adds: "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."

Within the essay, Selena reveals why she decided to work on Living Undocumented specifically. "In 2017, I was approached about getting involved in a new documentary series called Living Undocumented that would shine a light on eight immigrant families in the U.S. from different countries and backgrounds, all facing possible deportation. I watched footage outlining their deeply personal journeys and I cried."

Selena writes about one of the young men in the documentary, Pablo, "whose family fled Colombia in 2002 to seek asylum when their family was repeatedly threatened by narco-guerillas". She explains that his dad, Roberto, "was detained by ICE, kept in a cage with other immigrants who slept on the floor with only aluminum blankets for warmth." After eight days, Roberto was deported.

Selena states: "I’m concerned about the way people are being treated in my country. 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. 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".

All eight episodes of Living Undocumented are available to watch on Netflix right now.