When Doris Muñoz learned that her parents were being targeted for possible deportation, she decided to help them the best way she knew how: by putting on a show.
Muñoz is the founder of Mija Management (styled as "mija mgmt"), a music management company she started shortly after graduating from Cal State Fullerton, where she worked on campus as a concert coordinator. She quickly put together a lineup at the Hi Hat in March, headlined by one of her own artists, an alt-R&B singer called Cuco (whom she describes, with the savvy of an industry veteran, as a combination of Kali Uchis, Mac DeMarco and Tyler the Creator) and sold out the venue, raising thousands of dollars for her parents' legal defense. She even got Vice News out to cover the event. "That was crazy," she says. "It exceeded my expectations."
Because of the success of that first event, Muñoz has decided to turn her "Solidarity for Sanctuary" benefit shows into an every-other-month series. The next one, redubbed "Selena for Sanctuary" and featuring tribute performances by Cuco and August Eve dedicated to the late Mexican-American pop star, takes place tonight at the Satellite.
At their current scale, each Solidarity for Sanctuary event raises enough money to help cover the legal costs — roughly $5,000, according to Muñoz — to fight one person's deportation. So after investing the proceeds from the first event into her mother's legal defense, Muñoz hopes tonight's event will raise enough to cover her father.
"Going into these first two events, these are all friends, you know?" she says of the crowds that have come out so far. "And they're down to protect my family."
Staring in July, Muñoz plans to focus on one individual or family fighting deportation for each event — not just undocumented Mexican immigrants, like her parents, but Syrian refugees and other groups under threat from the anti-immigrant policies of the Trump administration.
Though she herself is a natural-born U.S. citizen, born in Whittier and raised mostly in San Bernardino County, Muñoz has already experienced the devastating effects deportation can have. One of her older brothers, who came to the U.S. as a child, had his DACA status revoked and was deported in 2015. During one of his routine appointments at the San Bernardino immigration office, "they surprised him with handcuffs and the first bus to TJ," Muñoz says. "We didn't get to say goodbye. He has three daughters, he has a wife," all of whom remain in the U.S. "And that was during the Obama administration," she adds, noting that even before Trump, the threat of deportation over even minor offenses was ever-present.
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Muñoz hopes her events will raise general awareness that, contrary to well-intentioned statements coming out of the mayor's office "L.A. isn't really a sanctuary city anymore," she contends. "There's ICE raids in unexpected places. With these aggressive tactics, no one really feels safe anymore."
Selena for Sanctuary takes place tonight at the Satellite, with DJ sets from Cuco, Ricky Reed of Nice Life Records and Honey Power Club featuring KXLU's Mukta Mohan, with Selena tribute performances by mija mgmt artists Cuco and August Eve. $5 minimum donation at the door. More info.