Selena Gomez on US migration policies
Selena Gomez is a woman of great power. With 172 million followers on Instagram, she is the fifth most followed person in the world of social platforms. Three of his albums hit number one on Billboard 200 – the most recent being Rare, released in January 2020 – which has sold more than 7 million copies worldwide. As a TV producer, she was the driving force behind Thirteen, one of the biggest hits of Netflix in 2017. In the meantime, with its appearance in the 2019 horror zombie The dead don’t die, by Jim Jarmush, Gomez stood up to actors like Adam Driver, Bill Murray and Chloë Sevigny.
Gomez has decided to use this power to lift and unite people. At 17, she became a UNICEF ambassador – the youngest at the time – and was involved in the UR Votes Count campaign, which encouraged U.S. teenagers to vote. She expressed herself passionately on the anguish generated by social media, as on the negative impact they had on her generation, and also on how much the condition of lupus sufferer has affected her mental health. In 2019 he received the McLean Award for Mental Health Advocacy, previously awarded to astronaut Buzz Aldrin and actress Jane Fonda. Recently, he spoke of his diagnosis of bipolarity in the Miley Cyrus series Bright Minded on IGTV.
His latest project is the executive production of the Netflix documentary, Clandestine lives, released by the streaming service in October 2019. The six-part series follows eight families of migrants who live in the United States and face deportation. The documentary is a sometimes tough vision, with entire families destroyed by the intervention of the federal agency Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Now that our attention is focused on the global health crisis, it is particularly pertinent to keep such an urgent matter at the center of our thoughts. It must be considered that there are refugees and migrants all over the world who live in camps without access to water or soap, without defenses against the spread of Covid-19. It is important, now more than ever, to keep compassion and kindness in circulation.
To support the documentary and the stories of the families portrayed, Gomez wrote an article for the April 2020 edition of Vogue Arabia which is titled “Connected: Love will Heal the World”, (” Connected: love will heal the world “), in which he explains why he feels he must give voice to the oppressed. Her discontent with the migration policies of the United States, being herself the grandson of migrants, is profound. When asked how she feels about living in Donald Trump’s America, Gomez insisted that more needs to be done. “We simply have to do it,” he writes. “I hope we can still offer the American dream. I hope that we can still offer people a better life.”
A scene from the documentary Clandestine lives
© Courtesy of Netflix
From Selena Gomez’s journey to her origins, to the importance of listening to the stories of migrant families, here are four things we learned from her article for Vogue Arabia.
If you have not already done so, you must see Clandestine lives
Released on Netflix in October 2019, the documentary follows eight families from different countries and backgrounds, whose lives have been destroyed by U.S. migration policies and their president, Donald Trump. For families, who are seeking asylum from the violence of countries like Colombia and Mexico, accepting to appear in the series was a great risk: “Through the documentary, I learned that people can transmit a lot of inspiration,” writes Gomez in his piece for Vogue Saudi. “These families face huge problems, but they manage to find the strength to move forward.”
His is a family of migrants – for Gomez, the story is very personal
Born 27 years ago in Texas, Selena identifies herself as a Mexican-American woman. “I am very proud of both my nationalities. My family chose to leave Mexico to pursue the American dream.” writes for Vogue Saudi. Selena’s aunt left Mexico in the 1970s, crossing the American border hidden in the back of a truck. “Then my grandparents left and my father was born in the United States. If they hadn’t chosen this country as their home, things could have been very different for me.”
America was, after all, built on immigration
The United States, Gomez reminds us, was built on immigration, with the first British and European settlements beginning around 1600. The issue became highly debated during Trump’s presidency, with the changes imposed on ICE and the extension of the wall on the border between the United States and Mexico.
Gomez points out that the way a country and its policies manage immigration is proportional to how much compassion and empathy there is in the country itself. “One thing I understand is that immigration goes beyond politics and debates – it’s a human matter,” he says. Although Gomez recognizes that this complex issue cannot be solved overnight, people’s stories need to be heard. You can hear eight of these stories in Clandestine lives.
Change can and must be achieved together
Maybe not all of us have Gomez’s exhibition, but we can all do our part. Regardless of the country we live in, we can and must protest, by writing to our government about policy amendments and voting for the changes we would like. “I want these migrants and refugees to know that there are people fighting for them,” adds Gomez at the end of his piece. “There are people who will listen to them, and who are ready to fight for change.”
Clandestine lives, produced by Selena Gomez, it is available for streaming on Netflix. Read the entire interview on the edition of April 2020 of Vogue Arabia, available now, and other first-person accounts of Diane von Furstenberg, Rita Ora, and Prabal Gurung