Saturday, May 1, 2010

Baseball and Immigration

What could be more all-American than baseball, our national pastime? And what else could be more all-American than hysteria over immigration, which has risen up in waves over our entire history, as we have faced successive waves of immigrants whether Chinese or German or Italian or Irish or Jewish or Mexican?

As soon as Arizona passed a new law giving the police more power to demand that people prove their right to be here, talk arose from the usual sources of boycotts and other forms of political pressure.  But the source that may have the greatest chance of making Arizona think twice about the wisdom of its actions is baseball. The players' union has already issued a protest statement, and there is talk of moving the 2011 All-Star game scheduled to be played in Arizona, moving spring training camps out of Arizona, and boycotting the Diamondbacks. It turns out that more than a quarter of the players on Major League teams were born outside the United States, the vast majority of them from Latin America. They do not take kindly to the idea of seeing their relatives harassed for their papers.

Maybe Arizonans ought to consider the irony of their state's support of harsh immigration policies while they cheer for such home team players as  Juan Gutierrez, Tony AbreuRodrigo Lopez, Esmerling Vasquez, and Gerardo Parra.

And for an added dose of irony, or maybe chutzpah is the more appropriate term, here is Governor Brewer, who signed a law giving the police the authority to question people offering reasonable suspicion that they are here illegally, admitting that she does not know what an illegal immigrant looks like:

(photo of Diamondbacks outfielder Gerardo Parra from

UPDATE (5/3/10): For more angry reactions from ballplayers, go to ThinkProgress.


  1. How many of those baseball players are illegal immigrants?

  2. Probably none of these ballplayers are illegal, but that's not the point. What upsets these players is that they might be harassed when they go out in public; or that when their friends and relatives from Venezuela or the Dominican Republican or wherever come to Phoenix to watch them play, they are going to be asked for their papers; or that their family members or neighbors in the United States might get hassled; or that they are being treated as second class citizens in a country they used to admire. Don't you think that is understandable?

  3. Sounds like you're making a lot of assumptions to me.