Pan Caliente: Tito Rey shares his personal story with "Nobody's Illegal"

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Born and raised in Chile, Tito Rey grew up listening to vocal greats like Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. With aspirations to become an R&B pop star — he began competing at the age of 14 in various singing shows on TV in Chile. But it wasn’t until he was a contestant on Jennifer Lopez’s “Q’Viva! The Chosen,” that he caught her ear and was one step closer to realizing his dream. Doors opened and while opportunities came his way, his visa to stay in the US was close to expiring and he had a tough choice to make if he was to continue chasing his dream.

Tito continued to pursue his passion and work towards becoming a star in the music industry, all while being undocumented in the US. In 2019, he was finally able to gain documentation and it inspired him to write what would become his first single. 

“Nobody’s Illegal” touches on his personal story of having to deal with a procedural status change, and how that impacted his own psyche. But it also speaks to the larger theme of legal vs illegal immigration, which has been a topic of perennial controversy in the US. It’s heavy for a catchy R&B anthem, but incredibly raw and necessary. Not to mention an incredible showcase of Tito’s vocal range.

For the video, Tito chose to showcase the work that the TODEC Legal Center (which mobilizes non-profit organizations, influencers and activists) has done with their ongoing campaign #LettersOfLoveToKids — featuring letters from the Inland Empire Immigrant Youth Coalition. The campaign supports children who have been separated from their families across the United States-Mexico border with over 10,000 letters being delivered to immigrant prisons in California, Arizona and Texas.