Shakira Says She 'Cannot Imagine the Pain' Felt by Families Separated at Border in Powerful Essay

Shakira is calling for action to stop separating children from their parents at the border.

Earlier this month, lawyers announced that they still haven't been able to locate the parents of 545 migrant children separated at the U.S.-Mexico border under the government's administration's controversial "zero-tolerance" immigration policy.

At the final presidential debate ahead of the Nov. 3 election, President Donald Trump doubled down on the treatment of people at the southern border, saying the children detained there are "so well taken care of."

In a new essay for TIME, the Latin music superstar, 43, called out Trump and urged the American government to reverse the policy.

"This is not about politics," writes Shakira. "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."

"If there was ever a time to show greater compassion to the immigrants in our communities, it’s right now," she added. "During a pandemic that has already taken so much from us, immigrants are often the ones who have been on the frontlines, performing the essential work to keep us healthy and safe — often in dangerous conditions and for wages that are far too low. The last thing they deserve is to have their families broken apart."

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The mother of two — she shares sons Sasha, 5, and Milan, 7, with longtime boyfriend Gerard Piqué — says she "cannot imagine" the emotional toll and heartbreak involved in the separation of children from their parents.

"As a mother, I think about my youngest son, who is now 5. 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. Who answers the cries of the children left without their parents?" Shakira writes. "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."

"Every child deserves to have their basic needs met, to receive an education and to be surrounded by caring and nurturing adults," she adds. "The trauma that these children are experiencing every second they remain separated from their parents will stay with them for life."

The Colombian singer concluded that though "speaking up isn't always easy, especially when one is not an American citizen and can be perceived as an outsider commenting on domestic policies," American policies set a global precedent.

"The United States' decisions affect us all, even more so when children's lives are on the line," she writes. "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."

"Now is not the time to be silent," Shakira adds.

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