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Players' Union to Arizona: modify or repeal your immigration law

Apr 30, 2010, 3:28 PM EDT

Arizona outline.jpgMLBPA head Michael Weiner has issued a statement opposing Arizona’s recently-passed SB 1070 immigration law:

“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.  These international players are very much a part of our national pastime and are important members of our Association.  Their contributions to our sport have been invaluable, and their exploits have been witnessed, enjoyed and applauded by millions of Americans.  All of them, as well as the Clubs for whom they play, have gone to great lengths to ensure full compliance with federal immigration law .

“The impact of the bill signed into law in Arizona last Friday is not limited to the players on one team.  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 Major League Baseball Players Association opposes this law as written.  We hope that the law is repealed or modified promptly.  If the current law goes into effect, the MLBPA will consider additional steps necessary to protect the rights and interests of our members.

“My statement reflects the institutional position of the Union.  It was arrived at after consultation with our members and after consideration of their various views on this controversial subject.”

Unlike the Super Bowl being moved out of Arizona 20 years ago due to the state’s failure to recognize Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a holiday, I had felt that there was very little chance that baseball would move the 2011 All-Star Game as a result of the controversy surrounding the new immigration law.

For one thing, Major League Baseball is not the sort of institution that tends to take stands unless it feels that it is reflecting a clear majority sentiment. And while time and information may change people’s minds on this new law, unlike the situation with the King Holiday, it certainly can’t be said that there’s anything approaching a consensus on it. Many loathe it. Many love it. They all buy baseball tickets, so Bud Selig wasn’t likely to say anything if he could help it.

But if Baseball is afraid of wading into controversy, it’s even more loathe to be the source of controversy. And the player’s union taking a clear stand on this means that, unless baseball takes the same stand, controversy is inevitable.  The sort that comes from players threatening to boycott the All-Star Game, for example, which would be a totally different deal than random people protesting or boycotting a Cubs game.  Different in terms of the media coverage, and certainly different in terms of the effect (i.e. 20 players agreeing to not participate in the All-Star Game means a lot more than 20, 200 or even 20,000 people agreeing not to buy Dbacks merchandise).

In other words, this changes everything, at least from baseball’s perspective. And it certainly puts the ball in Bud Selig’s court.

  1. The Common Man - Apr 30, 2010 at 6:15 PM

    As mentioned above JTrain, a driver’s license is not proof of citizenship, just of your ability to operate a motor vehicle. There’s a reason that the Birther movement kept asking for Obama’s birth certificate, even though he presumably has a driver’s license.

  2. Paul - Apr 30, 2010 at 6:43 PM

    It’s just the beginning of a six year plan.

  3. The JTrain - Apr 30, 2010 at 6:44 PM

    Agreed, but the point I was making is that carrying it is not a burden to me. It’s in my wallet and with me everywhere I go. If I needed to add my birth certificate to my wallet, what’s one extra piece of paper going to matter?
    In addition, here are links to the stats I quoted earlier. In the interest of full disclosure, I overstated the popularity of the bill in the entire US. It was over 60%, not 65%, as I had previously stated.
    Arizona opinion:
    US opinion:

  4. The Common Man - Apr 30, 2010 at 6:45 PM

    C’mon Jack, I know you and I disagree about darn near everything, but you’re a smart guy. This bill may be designed to target illegal immigrants, but it potentially affects any US citizen in Arizona who the police “reasonably suspect” (whatever that means) is here illegally. And baseball fans should be the first to realize that, regardless of the source of criticism (Canseco), sometimes it’s spot on.

  5. The JTrain - Apr 30, 2010 at 6:50 PM

    Agreed, but the point I was making is that carrying it is not a burden to me. It’s in my wallet and with me everywhere I go. If I needed to add my birth certificate to my wallet, what’s one extra piece of paper going to matter?
    In addition, here are links to the stats I quoted earlier. In the interest of full disclosure, I overstated the popularity of the bill in the entire US. It was over 60%, not 65%, as I had previously stated.
    Arizona opinion:
    US opinion:

  6. ThatRogue - Apr 30, 2010 at 6:56 PM

    You seem to be missing the following points:
    1) U.S. Citizens do not regularly carry proof of citizenship. Please note that a valid drivers license is NOT proof. U.S. Citizens will be stopped under this law (despite BCTF asserting that I do not understand it). The vagueness that The Common Man has referenced creates a problematic situation that will lead to law enforcement checking people that have done nothing wrong. Checking the legal status of people who commit crimes certainly makes sense…but the language of this law appears to go well above and beyond that.
    2) Most people who are here legally have no problem providing documentation. However, what happens when you are on your way to the airport to catch a flight, are pulled over for an improper lane change (or some other moving violation that is “subject to interpretation”), do not have your passport, and are detained, causing you to miss your flight? How will you feel when this results in you having to pay a fare difference and penalty, and possibly miss an important meeting, or other event?
    (And to Jack Marshall, this is not about MLB or the MLBPA “attacking Arizona” or “giving illegal immigrants/residents/aliens a free pass”. This is about the impact of the law on U.S. Citizens as well as legal residents. Thus, the MLBPA has a right to consider how the law will impact their constituents. And, if the impact is too great, then not doing business in Arizona is well within their rights…just like any organization can decide to stop doing business in any state if that state’s laws have an adverse impact on its ability to conduct business.)

  7. Professor Dave - Apr 30, 2010 at 6:59 PM

    The predictable and repetitious debate over the bills’ contents in this thread misses the really interesting point of the article and the MLBPA’s statement. 27% of the major league players are Latino. I can’t think of another place where wealth and Latino interests come together so neatly in the US, though of course many of Carlos Slim’s interests have tendrils throughout the states. In politics, perceptions matter, as does cash. For the MLBPA, not an overtly political body, to take this public position so quickly, reflects the movement of CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIAN, but Latino, power against this bill. That’s new and the power of the media pulpit makes it significant, as will any MLB response.
    As for the contents. At the risk of being predictable and repetitious, this bill reflects expanded power of the state to demand ID and arrest those who lack it. The Fourth Amendment ought to protect us against such things. Conservatives, if they love the Constitution, if they want to restrict the power of government, to keep them out of our lives, should oppose this bill.
    I love the Constitution and dislike government intrusion. Hence, beyond moral or racial issues, I oppose this legislation.

  8. Largebill - Apr 30, 2010 at 7:08 PM

    Come on guys, you have to have heard the term “reasonable suspicion” before. It applies to hundred of police issues. A policeman can enter a home if he has reasonable suspicion someone is in danger. “Heard a lady scream and then a loud thud.” “Knocked on the door and getting no answer I glanced in the window and saw a body so I entered . . . ” Based on how it is explained a judge will determine whether the law enforcement agent actually did have reasonable cause. This is nothing new. Law enforcement will receive training on what constitutes reasonable cause for this law and then in the field will have to make judgment calls.
    Separately, people talk about profiling as if it is always a bad thing. Absent other information, hearing that police are pulling over a certain demographic it can seem like unreasonable profiling. However, if the rest of the information is police are responding to repeated reports of gangs shaking down store owners in Chinatown then it may be reasonable to profile Chinese youth wearing gang colors. That doesn’t equal an arrest or a conviction. Valid profiling starts the process that will either rule out a suspect or determine the suspect is the likely perp.

  9. ThatRogue - Apr 30, 2010 at 7:18 PM

    I certainly understand your “loud noise” example. But please tell me, from a common sense perspective, what constitutes “reasonable suspicion of being in the U.S. illegally”?

  10. Ron - Apr 30, 2010 at 7:23 PM

    Is there other legistlation in Arizona that defines ‘lawful contact’?
    It might not be spelled out in this bill, but possibly it’s covered somewhere else and law enforcement officials in Arizona know what that entails. I don’t know one way or the other, but it could answer a lot of questions if it is.
    If not, it proably should be.

  11. The Common Man - Apr 30, 2010 at 8:41 PM

    Again, what could possibly constitute reasonable suspicion of being an illegal alien besides ethnicity? Illegal immigrants don’t have “gang colors.” In fact, I’d wager they’d be against that idea, since it would make them awfully easy to spot. Language skill? Italian and German (and Polish, and Swedish, and French-Canadian) legal immigrants to this country often retained their first language; indeed, many chose never to learn English. Estimated income? Neighborhood? Again, these don’t strike me as reasonable. Again, what will Arizona police be trained to look for. I bet you’re a smart guy. Think of something.
    Ron, good question. I am neither a criminal nor prosecuting attorney in Arizona, so I have no idea. To my knowledge, there is nothing; in looking into this legislation, I have not found any reference to it.
    Ew, recaptca: fondling the

  12. Real American - Apr 30, 2010 at 8:48 PM

    60% of the country supports the law. That’s as close to a political consensus as you get in this country. It’s the whiner leftists like those in unions who get their panties in a bunch and call the majority Nazis because one state wants to enforce a federal law that the federal government has ignored, which has caused a ton of problems in their state, including property damage, kidnapping, drug smuggling and murder. I guess the Player Union is for those things.

  13. Thomas - Apr 30, 2010 at 10:18 PM

    The problem that I have with the Arizona law is that it won’t work. The only solution to the illegal alien problem will be to remove the work that they come here to do. The best way that I can see to do that will be to put the employers in jail for hiring the illegal aliens. Take away the incentive for them to be here and they are more likely to leave.

  14. Professor Dave - Apr 30, 2010 at 10:57 PM

    What the allegedly real American doesn’t understand is that the Players Union represents a largely conservative block of people. I know it’s hard when you hear the word “union” to remember that, because FOX has so ingrained the kneejerk response, but the MLBPA represents a small group of millionaires with a disproportionately high religious sensibility. Perhaps in his mind it is impossible for brown people to be real Americans; he’s not alone in that prejudice.
    I will defend my Constitutional rights though. I have the right to bear arms. I have the right to free speech. I have the right to refuse reasonable search. This law tries to enable unreasonable search. It’s not the first in US history. It won’t be the last. And it will be struck down.

  15. Old Gator - May 1, 2010 at 5:07 AM

    Here’s a great idea: let’s assume automatically that any jackass who appropriates an arrogant, presumptive, ignorant, self-congratulatory handle for himself like “Real American” (meaning, I suppose, that anyone who disagrees with him is not a Real American, what with evincing such distinctly un-American behavior as taking the Constitution literally and expressing a different opinion from said jackass), is a dangerous neofascist thug and should be convicted without trial of a hate crime and deported to, oh, I don’t know, Iran or some such place so he can live happily in an environment where his own mentality actually constitutes the substance of the state in which he now resides.
    During this period of enforced exile, said “Real American” shall be forced to study the corrupt economic system under which he had been living. The hope is that he will eventually come to a rudimentary understanding of why it is that “property damage, kidnapping, drug smuggling and murder,” among other things – including the economic inequalities that drive illegal immigration in the first place – are actually produced by the very economic and political system that such thick-skulled, hateful ignoramuses like “Real American” would defend via the suspension of the civil rights he would like us to think actually characterize his system in the first place.
    Of course, given that most idiots who configure themselves “real Americans” by universalizing their own ignorance as golden miens are going to have trouble sorting through the ironies of a world that refuses to be divided into such simplistic little cliches. Hence, unfortunately, the rate of recidivism is likely to be pretty high.
    recaptcha: no kleagle. Is this synchronicity, or is this synchronicity?

  16. Moses Green - May 1, 2010 at 6:42 AM

    Die, Crackers. Same fucking crackers didn’t want to celebrate MLK day. Fuck all you cracker motherfuckers.
    Funny how all 4 states that start with the letter “A” are just chock fuckin full of crackers. Racist. White. Trash.
    Way back in 1991 my main man Chuck D. preached on the subject. Look it up, young uns. Learn your history. Study the devil and his ways.

  17. old balls - May 1, 2010 at 2:03 PM

    Every one is taking a stance on one side or the other. Is it wrong to say that maybe the federal government instead of coming up with a solution to secure our borders, to punish the employers who are hiring these people, are the culprits. If obama would have got off his ass and had done something about this instead of postponing it to a later date maybe Arizona would not have acted so quickly. As far as baseball is concerned maybe they should clean up their on house before they open their mouths to try and clean someone else’s place. Of course when you have an idiot who runs the union he’s probably here illegally from Africa!

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