Fifth Harmony singer Camila Cabello is speaking out at a crucial time about her experience immigrating to the United States as a child.
In a new essay for PopSugar's coverage of Hispanic Heritage Month, Cabello expresses pride in her Cuban-Mexican heritage and shares what it was like to cross the border from Mexico with her mother when she was almost 7 years old.
The singer, now 19, recalls her mother telling her they were leaving to go to Disney World. She acknowledges "how scary it must have been" for her parents to leave behind everything they knew "to start from the ground up."
"With a couple hundred dollars, the clothes on our backs, no family in the United States, and no clue of what was going to happen next, that's exactly what we did," she writes. "Like my mom said, 'I don't know where I'm going, but I can't stay here.' And that was enough."
Cabello's mother was an architect in Cuba, but her degrees didn't count in the United States, so she worked in retail and took English classes at night. One day she heard about a job using an architectural computer program she was unfamiliar with.
"She learned how to use the program in a week and made enough to move us out of my godmother's house and into an apartment," Cabello writes. "She learned fast because she literally had to in order to survive."
Her father joined them in Miami a year and a half later, "literally risking his life for his family to physically make it here." He started out washing cars, but he and Cabello's mother eventually formed a construction company together.
Witnessing her parents' hard work inspired Cabello to try out for The X Factor despite having never performed. "I learned from my family that if you work hard enough and you want it badly enough, you can do the impossible."
Cabello ends her essay with a reference to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's proposed border wall.
This country was built on immigrants. People who were brave enough to start over. How strong we are to leave behind everything we know in hopes of something better. We are not fearless, we just have dreams bigger than our fears. We jump. We run. We swim, we move mountains, we do whatever it takes. And so next time, when anybody wants to tell you they want to build a "wall" on our border, remember behind that wall is struggle, determination, hunger. Behind that wall, could be the next cure for cancer, the next scientist, the next artist, the next drummer, the next anything they work hard enough to become!
National Hispanic Heritage Month lasts from September 15 to October 15 and recognizes the many positive contributions of Hispanic Americans to society.