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How the music manager Doris Muñoz is celebrating the late Latin star Selena while helping immigrant families

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Doris Muñoz, whose Solidarity for Sanctuary series raises funds to help immigrant families.
(Bethany Pangilinan)

As the daughter of Mexican immigrants, the young music manager and Chicana activist Doris Muñoz didn’t have the most idyllic Southern California upbringing.

Of the frequent bangs and pops that echoed across her San Bernardino neighborhood, she recalled thinking, “Is that gunshots or fireworks? I don’t know.”

Over lunch, Muñoz, 23, wryly described her former home as “literally the worst city in California — Stockton is now number two” while discussing Solidarity for Sanctuary, a series of concert fundraisers she has organized to help members of poverty-stricken communities deal with steep immigration-related legal expenses.

As the founder of Mija Management, Muñoz oversees the careers of artists including rising Chicano singer and producer Cuco, the self-described “wavy soul” singer Jasper Bones and the pop songwriter Hunnah.

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In her role as a connector, Muñoz has been taking on a more pressing concern.

On Friday, artists and activists will gather at the Hi Hat in Highland Park for Selena for Sanctuary, a benefit that will simultaneously celebrate the late Latin pop star Selena while helping fund the Dream Co-Op Scholarship, which Muñoz describes as targeting “undocumented college students at Cal State Fullerton.”

On the roster will be tribute performances from singer, producer and multi-instrumentalist August Eve and the singer-songwriter Danielle Espinoza, who records as Welfair. Mixed in will be DJ sets from DJ Wampiro (Thee Commons) & Romoface (Ham on Everything) , and the DJ and video team Musty Boyz.

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The Solidarity for Sanctuary event, which first occurred in March, came of necessity. As a U.S. citizen, the Cal State Fullerton grad Muñoz is legally allowed to sponsor her parents in the immigration process. But in addition to the stress of feeling responsible for her parents’ fate, steep legal fees have made the endeavor seem impossible.

Describing the “thousands of dollars” in legal fees required to successfully petition for a visa, Muñoz called it money “I never could have imagined, and that’s the vicious cycle that the undocumented community stays in. They work from paycheck to paycheck and are doing their best to find the correct pathway to citizenship.”

An active participant in the thriving underground house concert scene of the Inland Empire, Muñoz said the response to the first Selena for Sanctuary event was overwhelming. Still sounding awestruck during a phone call last week — “it was crazy!” -- she noted that both Telemundo and Univision covered it.

It didn’t hurt that Cuco was on the bill, who helped sell out the 300-capacity Hi Hat.

Then a September dance party raised funds for application renewal fees associated with so-called Dreamers whose future in the country is in jeopardy under President Trump.

“For a lot of kids who are in college,” Munoz said, “how are they going to come up with $500 in just a few weeks?”

At the same time, that population has proved itself to be a powerful force in Southern California culture, one often ignored in mainstream coverage of Latin music.

During conversations at the recent sold out Tropicalia Music and Taco Festival in Long Beach, which featured a varied roster of Spanish- and English-language acts, Muñoz noted a recurring theme “among white folks in the music industry who didn’t really tap into the Latin pop or ranchera” scenes.

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Until experiencing the enthusiasm in Long Beach, Muñoz said, “They didn’t really see the middle ground that Tropicalia really provided, which is young Latino teenagers that are here and really excited about the community being represented.”

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Selena for Sanctuary

When: Friday, 8 p.m.

Where: The Hi Hat, 5043 York Blvd., Highland Park

Tickets: $10

Info: Ticketfly

For tips, records, snapshots and stories on Los Angeles music culture, follow Randall Roberts on Twitter and Instagram: @liledit. Email: randall.roberts@latimes.com.

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UPDATES:

2:15 p.m. This article was updated with new details on the roster for Friday’s fundraiser.


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