Latin Artists Join Arizona Immigration Law Debate

Shakira rearranged her schedule on Thursday to make a stop in Phoenix to discuss Arizona’s new immigration law with the city’s police chief and mayor. A number of artists also made statements about the law during a Latin music awards ceremony in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The law, which is being called the nation’s toughest on illegal immigration, makes it a state crime to be in the U.S. illegally. Police will be required to ask people about their immigration status if officers suspect they are illegal immigrants. Gov. Jan Brewer signed the law last week.

“I heard about it on the news and I thought, ‘Wow,'” Shakira told The Associated Press. “It is unjust and it’s inhuman, and it violates the civil and human rights of the Latino community … It goes against all human dignity, against the principles of most Americans I know.”

Photo: AP Photo / Pool
"Wetten Das" television show, Salzburg, Austria

After meeting with city officials about how the law will be implemented if it goes into effect this summer, the singer also met with a few hundred community members at the state Capitol in downtown Phoenix.

“I’m here pretty much undocumented,” she told the crowd, explaining that she could be arrested for forgetting to bring her driver’s license to Arizona.

Shakira added that U.S. Congress needs to work on immigration reform – and not by following Arizona’s lead.

“No person should be detained because of the color of their skin,” she said.

Ricky Martin went off the script during an awards ceremony in San Juan on Thursday, saying the law “makes no sense.”

ALAS Foundation concert, Zocalo Square, Mexico City.

“You are not alone. We are with you,” Martin said. “Put a stop to discrimination. Put a stop to hate. Put a stop to racism.”

Mexican pop singer Paulina Rubio and Larry Hernandez also gave their two cents about the law.

“It’s regrettable that they are discriminating against us for the simple fact of looking Latino. It’s not fair. We have to say no to that law,” Hernandez said, explaining that he started his career in Phoenix.

Thursday night lawmakers tweaked the language of the law after hearing from other opponents alleging that the law would lead to racial profiling. According to the Los Angeles Times, a Phoenix police officer even sued over the law. The officer patrols an area near a school and said the law would force him to question children about their citizenship status.

Police will only be required to question suspects that have been stopped, detained or arrested as opposed to a person that might have simply asked an officer for directions.

Also, a section of the bill that specified that officers cannot “solely” use race as grounds for suspecting someone is an illegal immigrant has now been changed. The word “solely” was removed and officers are now barred from using race at all to enforce the law.

The paper noted that opponents of the bill weren’t satisfied with the changes, calling them simply “cosmetic.”

Three federal lawsuits have been filed against the bill with opponents promising to send in more. According to the Associated Press, “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.” 

California Senate leader Darrell Steinberg said the state should consider boycotting Arizona. On Tuesday San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom declared an immediate moratorium on city employees traveling to Arizona, and seven members of the Los Angeles City Council signed a proposal urging the city to “refrain from conducting business” or participating in conventions in Arizona.

Click here, here and here for the AP articles.

Click here for the Los Angeles Times article.