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'I feel afraid for my country': Selena Gomez recounts how her Mexican aunt sneaked into the country in the back of a truck in the 1970s and how the rest of her 'brave' family followed afterwards in op-ed about immigration in America

Selena Gomez has recounted how her paternal aunt sneaked into America from Mexico in the back of a truck in the 1970s in an emotional op-ed about immigration and her family's roots.  
The 27-year-old Texan born singer published an article in TIME on Tuesday in which she described the 'bravery' of her paternal aunt and grandparents who came to the US illegally in the 1970s. 
Her father, Ricardo, was born in America. Her mother, Mandy Teefey, is also a US citizen. 
In her article, Gomez described how her aunt - the first in the family to leave their native Mexico - entered the US by hiding in the back of a truck.

Her paternal grandparents, Ricardo, 64, and Mary, 69, followed their daughter and, once in the US, they welcomed Selena's father, who is also called Ricardo.
Selena Gomez as a child with her paternal grandparents Ricardo and Mary and her father, who is also called Ricardo. Her grandparents moved illegally into the US in the 1970s and had her father once in the country
Selena Gomez as a child with her paternal grandparents Ricardo and Mary and her father, who is also called Ricardo. Her grandparents moved illegally into the US in the 1970s and had her father once in the country 
The 27-year-old singer spoke out this week in an op-ed where she said she feared for the country
The 27-year-old singer spoke out this week in an op-ed where she said she feared for the country
In the article, Gomez said: 'In the 1970s, my aunt crossed the border from Mexico to the United States hidden in the back of a truck. 
'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. 
'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,' she said. 
Gomez went on to say that while she is no 'expert', she feels compelled to speak out on the issue despite having 'fear' of backlash. 
'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. 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.'
She went on to describe being involved in a documentary which features young people who are living in the country without legal status and said their stories moved her to tears. 
'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 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 said. 
She signed off the piece saying: 'Fear didn’t stop my aunt from getting into the back of that truck. And for that, I will always be grateful.' 
Gomez's father Ricardo was born in Texas. They had Selena as teenagers and they had been high school sweethearts.
The pair were married for five years then divorced.  She maintains good relationships with them both and with their new partners. 
Because her parents were so young when they had her, Selena's grandparents looked after her for much of her early life. 
'We kind of raised her. Selena’s father, he was always working. Her mom, Mandy, too was real hard-working when she was a young lady,'Ricardo told Radar Online in 2014.  
Ricardo said that she used to stop by often for tamales but that her in-person visits became less frequent the more busy and famous she became. 
'The sad part is we hardly see her nowadays, just by phone …When we talk on we say, "We don’t see you in person but we see you in the news, in the newspaper, the TV… Are you ok?"  She says, "Yeah,” he said. 
He said the family rallied around her when she split from Justin Bieber and also told how they helped her through her Lupus diagnosis.

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