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Songs For Sanctuary: Inside Music Manager Doris Muñoz's Fight For Immigrant Rights

Doris Muñoz
Arianna Cuesta

Doris Muñoz 

The latest edition of Muñoz's concert series hits New York on Aug. 18 with headliner Kali Uchis.

As the only natural-born U.S. citizen in her family of five, Doris Muñoz grew up with an emergency plan in case she arrived to find her childhood home in Southern California empty. Her family’s anxieties were realized when her older brother was deported to Mexico in 2015. As the current U.S. administration rolled out anti-immigration policies in 2017, she worried about her parents, who were still seeking a path to citizenship. “I had been living in fear my whole life,” says Muñoz, a 25-year-old music manager who founded her own firm, mija mgmt, that year. “I had to take action.”

In 2017, she organized a concert to raise the $6,000 in legal fees needed to file immigration paperwork for her parents. The event sold out Los Angeles’ 300-capacity Hi-Hat and convinced local Chicano artist Cuco, who performed, to sign with Muñoz for management. Since surpassing her goal, Muñoz has hosted nine concerts in the series, dubbed Solidarity for Sanctuary, raising over $14,000 to support immigrant rights.

Muñoz originally distributed concert proceeds directly to individuals, but changed strategies for Solidarity for Sanctuary’s first New York edition last year. “I wanted direct impact, but it was difficult to target single folks that need it,” she explains. “What we can do is provide a platform for organizations that do the work in the trenches.” She partnered with Voto Latino and Make the Road New York, which were set up on-site to receive donations and provide volunteer opportunities to the more than 4,000 attendees. That event was named Selena for Sanctuary, and it celebrated the late Tejano icon with covers of her songs by Gaby Moreno, Mon Laferte, Omar Apollo and Selena’s widower, guitarist Chris Perez.

Arianna Cuesta
Moreno performed at Selena for Sanctuary in 2018.

The next Selena for Sanctuary, set for the 5,500-capacity SummerStage in New York’s Central Park on Aug. 18, will be the biggest yet. For performers Kali Uchis, Helado Negro, Ambar Lucid and Selena’s nephew, the producer Principe Q, it’s an opportunity to support an issue that’s close to home. “If it wasn’t for the strength my dad had on his journey to the States, I wouldn’t be here,” says Uchis, whose parents are Colombian immigrants. Cuco, now a perennial presence in the series, recalls his father as the last in his family to become a citizen. “There’s always fear you won’t see someone again,” he says.

Ahead of the 2020 election, Muñoz plans to register Solidarity for Sanctuary as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and host the organization’s first-ever concert in Texas next spring. It’s an impressive climb for a fundraiser that, two years ago, Muñoz envisioned as a “little bucket” of cash in a bar. But no feeling will be better than when her parents achieve residency, which she hopes will happen by the holidays. “At the end of the day,” she says, “being aware of their status is what motivated me to get to where I am now.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

OUR BIGGEST @forsanctuary SHOW IS FINALLY UPON US --♥? massive thank you to @erikaelliottnyc for the trust and love to bring this to Central Park’s Summer Stage. thank you to every single artist + team a part of this. this line up honors how amazing and diverse our Latinx community in music is right now. this series started out of urgency early 2017, and to see where it has grown feels like all my dreams are coming to life. ALSOOOO WE’RE BECOMING AN OFFICIAL NON PROFIT THIS YEAR Y’ALL -- shout out to the amazing team that has come together to support this. more advocacy through the arts for years to come. solidarity for sanctuary is here to stay. --: @smallanxieties ♥?

A post shared by Doris Munoz (@mijadoris) on

This article originally appeared in the July 20 issue of Billboard.