Jonathan Del Arco and Jurnee Smollett-Bell
Major Crimes star Jonathan Del Arco spends a lot of time in the morgue to help the fictional detectives of the TNT drama series solve their problematic cases. But the actor is one of several Hollywood celebs lending their time and talents in an effort to solve an even bigger problem.
Del Arco is an honorary board member of the non-profit organization Welcome.us, which celebrates the United States rich immigrant heritage as a way to raise awareness about the ongoing political debate surrounding immigration reform. As part of June's Immigration Heritage Month, Del Arco and other actors, including Glee's Naya Rivera, The Vampire Diaries' Paul Wesley and Jamie-Lynn Sigler have created a series of PSAs to spread Welcome.us' message.
"We're addressing immigration in a holistic way," Del Arco tells TVGuide.com. "We're taking it out of the political circle and really addressing the social aspect of it. What we're attempting to do is unify and experience the truth, which is that we are very much a country made up of different backgrounds. That's what makes us awesome."
Del Arco, who was born in Uruguay and moved to the United States when he was 10, says he remembers his father's struggle to legally move their family to America, as well as the challenges the actor faced when trying to learn English. "I had to go through the trial by fire," he says. "Now, I feel 100 percent American — until the World Cup comes and I am totally torn!"
Del Arco's PSA, which also features True Blood's Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Macy Gray, tells the story of two very different people who cross paths in a hospital while waiting for news on their respective family members' health. Ultimately, the two become more connected than they could have possibly imagined.
"What's beautiful about it is it goes right down to the blood that runs through our veins," Del Arco says of the clip, which you can watch below. "We may all look different and have these notions of what it means to be Latino or Polish or African-American, but the fact is we all have the same blood. It crosses nationalities and races. ...This PSA is about appealing to our better selves, and we all need to sort of appeal to our better selves in dealing with this issue. It's massive and it's going to require a lot of hearts and minds before we can handle it compassionately."
That's also why he thinks Welcome.us' approach to discussing immigration from a place of celebration is so important. "[Immigration] is a topic that's really a third-rail issue. No one wants to touch it," he says. "Depending on where you live in the U.S., you have very strong opinions about 'those people.' What I love about this campaign is eliminating that 'those people' notion because when you come down to it, our parents and grandparents were 'those people' at one point. If we change people's perspective about what it means to be an immigrant, then maybe we can start looking at effective way to manage [the issue]."
Check out Del Arco's PSA below. For more information on Welcome.us and to see the rest of the PSAs, click here.