Colombian pop star Shakira shook Phoenix from the mayor's office to the barrio, blasting Arizona's new racial profiling law SB 1070 as promoting "discrimination" and "division," and contrary to the American values she said she admires.
"I'm not an expert on the [U.S.] Constitution," she told the throng of reporters present at City Hall. "But I know that the Constitution exists for a reason. It exists to protect human beings. To protect the rights of people living in a nation, with or without documents. We're talking about human beings here."
That actually is correct, despite what many nativist hatemongers would have you believe. Though the undocumented do not enjoy all of the rights and privileges of citizens, obviously, they are still protected by certain Constitutional safeguards, as well as by international standards of human rights.
Shakira also spoke of the contributions of Latino immigrants to the greatness of the country, specifically to its economic well-being.
"It is a misconception that Latino immigrants take away employment opportunities and go against the economics of this country," she said. "On the contrary, Latino immigrants help generate more employment opportunities."
She asserted that American companies "count on the Latino working force" to keep them competitive in the global marketplace, because "the Latino worker has a strong work ethic, works long hours...and [has] competitive work wages."
All in all, I was impressed by her speech, prepared though it obviously was ahead of time. She did not take questions, however, which was a disappointment.
Later she stopped by Chicanos Por La Causa's Carl Hayden Youth Center near 32nd Avenue and Van Buren Street, and spoke with women and children who have suffered discrimination, abuse, and terror at the hands of local authorities, specifically Sheriff Joe Arpaio's deputies, who were doing a sweep of the West Valley, even as Shakira was visiting Phoenix.
At the press event at his offices, Mayor Gordon spoke of the lawsuit against SB 1070 he was pursuing with private finds, some of which are being provided by Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform. Gordon said he was starting a new group called Arizonans for Common Sense, which would take donations to support the lawsuit. He encouraged people to contact his office if they wanted to help.
Gordon also said that his office had been the target of a threat recently. He read from it for the reporters.
"Traitor to Arizona and America," said the handbill. "You politicians care more about the welfare of foreign nationals than the safety and the jobs and the future of your own citizens. That's treason. Each of you should be arrested tried in court, found guilty of treason and hanged from the nearest tree. Death to traitors."
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Commented Gordon, "This is America, this is Arizona, this is 2010. We're not going backwards, we need to go forward. We will fight this."
Gordon also urged people "not to boycott" Arizona or Phoenix. "Only harm can come from a boycott," he claimed.
I disagree with him on that point, even while I admire his stance on Arizona's hateful new law. Good can come of a boycott, and as I laid out in my Bird column this week, Arizona's Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday is proof of that.