Selena Gomez Speaks Out About Immigration: ‘I Feel Afraid for My Country’

Selena Gomez is using her celebrity status to make a difference — lending her voice and personal experience to the immigration crisis in a powerful essay. Her own family history and work on a new Netflix documentary inform her worries about the current situation.

Selena Gomez
Selena Gomez | Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

“I feel afraid for my country”

Gomez begins the essay, published in TIME, by sharing that a family member crossed the border from Mexico to the United States while “hidden in the back of a truck” in the 1970s.

She continued, “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. Over the past four decades, members of my family have worked hard to gain United States citizenship.”

The actress/singer shared her concerns about the current state of immigration, noting, “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.”

“It’s a human issue”

Gomez points out that immigration is “a divisive political issue” but believes that it “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.”

“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 explains. “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.”

Her new Netflix documentary

Gomez is executive producing a Netflix documentary called Living Undocumented, which follows eight immigrant families’ stories. “I watched footage outlining their deeply personal journeys and I cried. It captured the shame, uncertainty, and fear I saw my own family struggle with,” she shared, adding, “But it also captured the hope, optimism, and patriotism so many undocumented immigrants still hold in their hearts despite the hell they go through.”

“I’m concerned about the way people are being treated in my country,” Gomez also writes. “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.”

She concludes: “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.”