“The atrocity of family separation at our Southern border needs to go down in history as one of the United States of America’s most merciless acts,” she wrote in a statement.
The singer pegged Nielsen specifically as her reasoning for dropping out. “Respectfully, I absolutely cannot support Kirstjen Nielsen having a voice among the most powerful and inspiring women in America. Her access to power is righteously over,” she wrote.
Nielsen served as President Trump’s homeland security secretary from December 2017 through April 2019, and is most known for executing and subsequently defending the president’s policy of separating migrant families.
According to Fortune Live Media’s website, Nielsen is scheduled to be interviewed by “PBS NewsHour” anchor Amna Nawaz about “the horror of family separation, border security, and more” in a panel titled “The Hard Questions.”
Activist groups have had their eye on Nielsen in the aftermath of her actions as homeland security secretary. One such organization, Credo Action, led a widespread social media campaign last month to pressure the Atlantic to drop Nielsen from its annual festival, at which she had been invited to speak. Nielsen ultimately announced she would not participate in the event.
Fortune, on the other hand, has defended the former secretary’s involvement in the summit.
“We believe that the most powerful women in business, who also happen to be some of the most powerful women in the world, have strong views about how the U.S. Administration has handled its immigration policy,” Fortune spokeswoman Alison Klooster said in a statement to HuffPost.
“We sought out an opportunity to bring the woman who was effectively responsible for that [immigration] policy to ask her tough questions publicly and on stage about that policy,” she said. “We brought in Amna Nawaz from PBS NewsHour to do the interview with the clear understanding that this would be a no-holds-barred interview, and that there would be an opportunity for our MPW [Most Powerful Women] members to ask questions, as well. That’s how we practice live journalism.”
Fortune’s decision to defend its decision comes despite other invitees pulling out of the conference in recent days. Award-winning filmmaker and author Dream Hampton announced last week that she would not attend the event because Nielsen was featured. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton also recently opted out of the event, though she cited scheduling conflicts, not Nielsen’s presence, as her reason for withdrawing.
Correction: An earlier version of this article reported that Credo Action held a protest outside Nielsen’s home, during which they played a tape of detained children crying, after she was invited to speak at the Atlantic Festival in September. That protest occurred in 2018. The story has been updated.