During the 60th annual Grammy Awards Sunday night at Madison Square Garden in New York City, Cuban-Mexican singer Camila Cabello gave a stirring speech about the uncertain times for undocumented immigrants in America.
Cabello, a former member of the girl group Fifth Harmony, recently became “the first woman to lead Billboard’s Artist 100, Hot 100 song chart and Billboard 200 albums chart since Adele over two years ago,” according to Money magazine. The New York Times reports that her first solo release went straight to No. 1 “after her song ‘Havana,’ featuring Young Thug, has been a staple at radio and streaming services since late last year.”
Cabello, 20, supports “Dreamers” — individuals in the U.S. who were brought to the country before the age of 16 without documentation but have assimilated to the culture and have been educated by U.S. school systems.
The bipartisan Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act was first introduced in Congress in 2001, and several versions of the bill have repeatedly failed to pass. The act would grant legal status to Dreamers. In 2012, because Congress failed to pass the immigration legislation, the Obama administration introduced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) to allow Dreamers to have their deportations delayed and obtain a temporary work permit.
U.S. Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is a longtime proponent of deporting undocumented young immigrants.
The DACA policy will end in March 2018, Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III announced in September.
On Jan. 22, to end the government shutdown, Democrats agreed to a deal that did not include an accord over DACA. President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he’s willing to offer a path to citizenship for Dreamers, but only if a border wall with Mexico is provided in the legislation, as well as other measures that would curb some legal immigration programs.
There are about 3.6 million Dreamers in the U.S. Many are serving in the military or studying at colleges and universities. According to a fact sheet generated by Define American, an advocacy organization, annually, undocumented immigrants pay an estimated $11.64 billion in state and local taxes, and pay $13 billion to Social Security.
A recent study by the CATO Institute found that deporting those with DACA status would cost over $60 billion in lost tax revenue and result in a $280 billion reduction in economic growth over the next decade.
Cabello was born in Cuba to a Cuban mother and a Mexican father. She moved back and forth between her birthplace and Mexico until age 6, when her family immigrated to the U.S.
“Tonight in this room full of music’s dreamers we remember that this country was built by dreamers for dreamers chasing the American dream,” the singer said before U2’s performance. “They showed me what it means to work twice as hard and never give up. And honestly no part of my journey is any different from theirs.
“I’m a proud, Cuban-Mexican immigrant, born in eastern Havana, standing in front of you on the Grammy stage in New York City. And all I know is that just like dreams, these kids can’t be forgotten and are worth fighting for.”
Cabello also noted that U2’s outdoor performance in front of the Statue of Liberty was taking place where “generations of immigrants” came with the hopes of a bright future.
“Tonight it is my great honor to introduce one of the greatest bands in music history, U2,” she said. “This band from Ireland first rocked the Grammy boat when they won four awards 30 years ago for ‘The Joshua Tree,’ an album that explored their own powerful connection with the American dream.
“Forty-six Grammy nominations and 22 awards later, they extend their stunning Grammy legacy tonight by celebrating New York City and the promise that has drawn generations of immigrants here from around the world. Here they are on the Hudson River performing in front of a beautiful lady who inspired these timeless words by Emma Lazarus.”
She then recited a portion of Lazarus’ poem:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
U2 tweeted after their performance, “Blessed are the S–thole Countries, for they gave us the American Dream.”