Selena Gomez will be the first to admit that she’s not an expert on immigration policy, but that’s not stopping her from bringing attention to the immigration crisis in the United States.
In an impassioned essay written for TIME, Gomez, 27, opened up about some of her own family members who came to the U.S. undocumented and how her experience as a Mexican-American inspired her to executive produce a new docu-series for Netflix called Living Undocumented.
“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 said in the piece, explaining that her aunt was the first out of her family to cross the border from Mexico into the U.S. in the back of a truck in the 1970s.
“My grandparents followed, and my father was born in Texas soon after,” she wrote. The songstress credits her family’s “bravery and sacrifice” for her being born a U.S. citizen.
But Gomez knows that her story is not the norm and said that watching footage about the eight subjects in Living Undocumented brought her to tears.
“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 wrote.
“It captured the shame, uncertainty, and fear I saw my own family struggle with,” she wrote of the docu-series. “But it also captured the hope, optimism, and patriotism so many undocumented immigrants still hold in their hearts despite the hell they go through.”
In September, Gomez shared a trailer for the docu-series on her Instagram account, writing in the caption, “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.”
She continued, “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.”
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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. ❤️
In the TIME essay, Gomez continued to tell the story of how she met three of the people featured in the series and spoke of their difficulty to go to college or even sleep in their own bed for fear of ICE knocking on their door.
“I’m concerned about the way people are being treated in my country,” she wrote, saying that she feels it is her “responsibility” as a Mexican-American woman to use her “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,” she continued.
“Fear shouldn’t stop us from getting involved and educating ourselves on an issue that affects millions of people in our country,” the “Wolves” singer wrote. “Fear didn’t stop my aunt from getting into the back of that truck. And for that, I will always be grateful.”