• Share
  • Tweet
  • Share
Shakira

AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa

Is there any real point to all these celebrities standing against the Arizona immigration law? Do they have enough clout to effect change?
—Liz Ruiz, via Answer B!tch on Facebook

Put it this way: Would certain people even know about the plight of Nashville if a certain wicked-eyed, blond, 20-year-old country singer weren't begging us all to pray for the town's deliverance? (You do know about Nashville, right?)

Well, the same principle applies to the new law in Arizona. And if you don't know what that is, some stars sure want you to, including Ricky Martin, George Lopez, Eva Longoria Parker, Ugly Betty's Tony Plana, Robert Rodriguez, Seth MacFarlane, Chuck D and, of course...

...Shakira.

They've all come out in recent days to slam Arizona's new immigration law. The measure requires Arizona cops to find out—by demanding I.D. or whatever—whether people are in the country legally if there is a reason to suspect they aren't. Activists say the law is a thing of bigotry, and that angry stars most definitely make a difference—largely by making people like you stop and look.

"They're well-known, largely by people under 40, and the artists are basically speaking to them, and these younger folks will be saying, 'Hey, what's really going on in Arizona?' " explains Jorge-Mario Cabrera of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles. "And then maybe they'll think, 'Well, I need to tell my parents about it.' "

Celebrities have a very long track record of, at the very least, getting the incurious to pay attention to complex issues.

"As it happened with apartheid, and as it happened with Haiti, and with Katrina, that cultural bridge that artists walk through every day will help immigrants and nonimmigrants get to know each other a little bit better, and help on the issue of immigration reform," Cabrera says.

To be fair, stars don't really have direct influence in these arenas. Yes, Shakira went to Arizona and made a big stink about the new law there, but the governor of that state hasn't exactly relented on the issue since she came shimmying through.

Instead, says Alan Jenkins of the Opportunity Agenda, artists have more of an indirect influence: They get the masses to pay attention, and then the masses make the politicians back down.

"Absolutely, they're helping spread word about this issue," Jenkins tells me.

Still don't believe me? Well, how about this: This is an entertainment site. We wouldn't be touching this—unless Shakira touched it first.