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Saturday, May 01, 2010

Baseball Players tell Arizona to Repeal the Law

The new Arizona immigration law has received a lot of attention in the short time since it was signed into law in late April. As the BBC notes, the law "will require state police to question people about their immigration status if there is 'reasonable suspicion'.

The bill - which takes effect in 90 days - also makes it a crime under state law to be in the US illegally."

Yesterday, the Major League Baseball Player's Association announced its formal opposition to the law. In a press release, Executive Director Michael Weiner, summarized the player's union opposition:
“The recent passage by Arizona of a new immigration law could have a negative impact on hundreds of Major League players who are citizens of countries other than the United States....

The international players on the Diamondbacks work and, with their families, reside in Arizona from April through September or October. In addition, during the season, hundreds of international players on opposing Major League teams travel to Arizona to play the Diamondbacks. And, the spring training homes of half of the 30 Major League teams are now in Arizona. All of these players, as well as their families, could be adversely affected, even though their presence in the United States is legal. Each of them must be ready to prove, at any time, his identity and the legality of his being in Arizona to any state or local official with suspicion of his immigration status. This law also may affect players who are U.S. citizens but are suspected by law enforcement of being of foreign descent."
The MLBPA "opposes this law as written" and calls for prompt repeal or modification.

Some voices are already calling for baseball to move the 2011 All-Star game, slated to be played in Phoenix. White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen has announced that he will not participate in the game. A number of current players have also spoken out against the law and mentioned their concerns about playing in Arizona.

About four and a half years ago, I noted a small number of athletes involved in progressive causes, including one baseball player openly opposed to the Iraq war. The latest reaction is timely and apparently provokes broader concerns.

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