Selena Gomez serves as an executive producer for Netflix’s Living Undocumented, which premieres on Wednesday, and her involvement in the project is a personal one. Ahead of the documentary series’ debut, the pop star penned an essay for Time in which she opened up about her family and shared her thoughts on America’s immigration crisis.
Gomez said that her aunt came to the United States from Mexico “hidden in the back of a truck.” Her grandparents soon followed and her father was born in Texas. “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,” she wrote. “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.”
She noted that the headlines and debates around immigration caused her to feel “afraid for my country” and while the conversation surrounding it is often a political one, it goes beyond that. “It is a human issue, affecting real people, dismantling real lives,” she said. “How we deal with it speaks to our humanity, our empathy, our compassion. How we treat our fellow human beings defines who we are.”
In the essay, she acknowledged the need for rules and regulations, but added that “we have to remember that our country was formed by people who came here from other countries. It’s time to listen to the people whose lives are being directly affected by immigration policies,” she asserted. “It’s time to get to know the individuals whose complex stories have been reduced to basic headlines.”
Gomez explained that her involvement with Living Undocumented began in 2017. The docuseries features eight families in the U.S. who are facing possible deportation, and last month she met with three of the people appearing in Living Undocumented, each of whom are living in fear.
“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 the people who are too afraid to speak,” she added. “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.”