Shakira visits Phoenix over tough immigration law

Columbian singer Shakira speaks to the media at Phoenix City Hall Thursday, April 29, 2010 in Phoenix. The pop star was visiting Phoenix to voice her opposition to the new Arizona immigration law. (AP Photo/Matt York)

April 29, 2010 7:19:21 PM PDT
Colombian singer Shakira visited Phoenix on Thursday, meeting with the city's police chief and mayor over concerns that a sweeping new state law cracking down on illegal immigration will lead to racial profiling.

The Grammy winner met with the officials to learn more about how the law will be implemented if it goes into effect this summer. She also met with members of Phoenix's Latino community to learn how the law could affect them.

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 said she came to Phoenix to raise awareness about the "dangerous consequences" of the immigration law.

"I am in opposition to this law because it is in violation of human and civil rights," she said. "It goes against all human dignity."

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 also sought to meet with Brewer during her visit to Phoenix but was told the governor's schedule was booked, said Trevor Nielson, the singer's political and philanthropic adviser.

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.