Colombian singer Shakira planned to visit Phoenix on Thursday over concerns that a sweeping new state law cracking down on illegal immigration will lead to racial profiling.
The Grammy winner was set to meet with Phoenix's police chief and mayor to learn more about how the law will be implemented if it goes into effect this summer, said Trevor Nielson, her political and philanthropic adviser.
The law, signed Friday by Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, is viewed as the toughest on illegal immigration in the nation and has drawn criticism from President Barack Obama, who questioned its legality. The law makes it a state crime to be in the U.S. illegally and directs police to question people about their immigration status if there is reason to suspect they're illegal immigrants.
"Shakira is deeply concerned about the impact of this law on hardworking Latino families," Nielson said. "She is coming to Arizona to try to learn more about how law enforcement is reacting to this new law and how we can ensure that people in the state of Arizona are not being targeted because of the color of their skin."
He said Shakira canceled other commitments to make the visit and also planned to meet with Hispanic families in Phoenix to see how they'd be affected by the law.
Nielson said Shakira also sought to meet with Brewer during her visit to Phoenix, but that the governor's director of scheduling told Nielson it wouldn't be possible because the governor was booked.
The new law thrust Arizona into the international spotlight last week, with civil rights leaders and others demanding a boycott of the state, and the Mexican government warning its citizens about an "adverse political atmosphere" in Arizona. At least three Arizona cities are considering lawsuits to block the law, and there are two efforts to put a referendum on Arizona's November ballot to repeal it.
Supporters of the law say it takes the handcuffs off police and is necessary to protect Arizonans, while opponents say it will lead to rampant racial profiling.
Shakira is perhaps best known for her nimble dance moves and songs including "Hips Don't Lie" and "She-Wolf," but recently she has become more active in political and social issues.
She visited earthquake-ravaged Haiti earlier this month, expressed her support for Cuban dissident group Ladies in White and has worked as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador. Her Barefoot foundation provides nutrition to more than 6,000 children in Colombia, and she is a member of the ALAS foundation that advocates for children across Latin America.
Last month, the U.N. labor agency gave the singer a medal for her work to help impoverished children.
On the Net:
Arizona Legislature: http://www.azleg.gov/
Phoenix city government: http://phoenix.gov/mayorcouncil/about/index.html