Shakira penned an emotional essay Friday about children separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexican border urging others not to stay silent.
In a first person piece for TIME, the Super Bowl halftime performer said though she appreciates the beauty of her home country of Colombia, it’s a place that is “rife with inequality” and lacks “social mobility.” Against that backdrop, she always viewed the United States as a place of “equal opportunity” where anyone could succeed.
“How, then, could a nation built on the shoulders of immigrants, one that purports to hold family values in such high regard, have such unimaginably cruel immigration policies?” Shakira wrote.
She continued: “In ‘the land of the free,’ there are 545 children now stuck in no-man’s-land, at risk of growing up without a mom or dad, 545 children who have to go to sleep without someone to reassure them that they aren’t in danger at any given moment, 545 children who can’t hug, laugh or have any contact with the people they love most.”
On Oct. 20, court-appointed lawyers said they have been unable to find parents of 545 children who were separated at the U.S. border with Mexico early in the Trump administration.
Shakira went on to say that as a mother of two boys, one of which is now 5, it saddened her to know that some of the children separated from their parents were younger than him.
“I think about how he cries for me when he skins his knee, and the pain I feel if I am not there to comfort him,” the “El Dorado” artist wrote about her child. “Who answers the cries of the children left without their parents? I cannot imagine the pain I would feel not knowing where my son was and whether he was safe, or the fear that these children must endure and the emotional scarring that is inflicted upon them.”
She continued to call the immigration policies in place at the U.S.-Mexico border a “denial of basic human rights,” noting that these laws aren’t about keeping Americans safe. She rebutted the argument that “parents put their children in this situation” by reminding people that leaving home isn’t an easy choice and many families are fleeing violent or unlivable circumstances.
“This is not about politics. There is simply no justification for the harm caused to these innocent children, and the people responsible for this cruel policy must be held accountable,” Shakira wrote adding that especially during a pandemic, when many immigrants are on the frontlines, we should be showing more compassion.
She ended her essay by acknowledging how people might perceive “an outsider commenting on domestic policies,” but said it’s imperative she speak up.
“The United States’ decisions affect us all, even more so when children’s lives are on the line. So it becomes a common and urgent responsibility to share the stories of these families, no matter where they are from, to keep their names in the news, and to bring them back together,” she wrote. “Now is not the time to be silent.”
Contributing: Associated Press