Selena Gomez is speaking up and out about the treatment of undocumented immigrants in America.
In a new cover story for London’s Dazed, the “Rare” singer, 27, opens up to the magazine about representing her roots, especially when it comes to her own family’s experience immigrating to the United States.
“I’m always very vocal about my background, as far as me talking about immigration and my grandparents having to come across the border illegally. I wouldn’t have been born [otherwise],” Gomez says.
She adds of honoring her heritage in her art: “I’ve rereleased a lot of music in Spanish as well, and that’s something that’s gonna happen a bit more. So there’s a lot more I would love to do because I don’t take it lightly; I’m very honored.”
Gomez, who executive produced the Netflix docu-series Living Undocumented, particularly calls out the Trump administration’s treatment of families at the U.S.-Mexico border, splitting children from their parents.
“I can’t even imagine what these kids being separated from their families are going through,” she says. “It’s something that is going to traumatize them for the rest of their lives. And it just seems animalistic.”
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The singer says that while it can be “frightening” to share personal stories related to immigration issues, potentially exposing oneself to scrutiny and mistreatment, talking about it ultimately leads to progress.
“I think sometimes you have to do the things that scare you in order to shake people up,” says Gomez. “My goal was to simply humanize my people because they were being called aliens [and] criminals.”
She later adds: “It is scary, but I think it needs to be talked about.”
Gomez also explains why those who are living in the U.S. while undocumented are still 100 percent Americans: “Because they believe in the American dream. They don’t want to cause hurt — this is meant to be one of the greatest countries for that reason. And to hear them be so proud of being a part of our country is beautiful.”
“They just want to live a healthy, safe life with their families and children,” she continues. “[They’re] contributing huge, huge amounts.”
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In October, Gomez penned an emotional essay for Time magazine, in which she revealed her family’s connection to the immigrant experience and why she wants to shed light on the topic.
“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, explaining that her aunt was the first of her family to cross the border from Mexico into the U.S. in the back of a truck in the 1970s. Her grandparents followed and her father was soon born in Texas.
Gomez wrote that she credits her family’s “bravery and sacrifice” for her being born a U.S. citizen, while also realizing that her popstar journey is not the norm for so many others in similar circumstances.
“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.”
She added: “Fear shouldn’t stop us from getting involved and educating ourselves on an issue that affects millions of people in our country. Fear didn’t stop my aunt from getting into the back of that truck. And for that, I will always be grateful.”
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