Selena Gomez Opens Up About Her Family's Immigration Story in an Emotional Essay

Selena Gomez's new Netflix show, Living Undocumented, tells the heartbreaking stories of eight undocumented families living in fear of being deported. Three of its subjects include a young woman named Bar whose family brought her to America from Israel when she was 6 months old and two brothers named Pablo and Camilo who fled Colombia with their family in 2002 after being threatened by narco-guerillas. On Oct. 2, Selena stepped out at the screening for the series in LA, where she posed for photos with members of the families seen in the show and Rosario Dawson, who also made an appearance.

As the show made its debut, the singer also penned an emotional essay for Time, in which she opened up about how her family's own experience coming to America led her to produce the documentary. "In the 1970s, my aunt crossed the border from Mexico to the United States hidden in the back of a truck," she started off. "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," she continued. "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."

The 27-year-old went on to speak about the American immigration crisis. She argued that immigration "goes beyond politics and headlines" and is a humanitarian issue, echoing a previous statement she made when she shared a first look at the Living Undocumented trailer on Instagram back in September.

"It's time to listen to the people whose lives are being directly affected by immigration policies."

"I don't claim to be an expert. I'm not a politician, I'm not a doctor, and I don't work in the system at all," she went on in her essay. "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. 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."

Read ahead to see a few photos from the night, then head over to Time to read Selena's full essay.