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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  We hope that the law is repealed or modified promptly.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. BCTF - Apr 30, 2010 at 4:38 PM

    Read the language of the bill before you comment rather than just regurgitating liberal propaganda. How does this allow poice to go on the field and questions a player without cause?

  2. DSFC - Apr 30, 2010 at 4:40 PM

    I think you’re underestimating the pushback a lot of people in Arizona are going to feel from this.

  3. Ross - Apr 30, 2010 at 4:41 PM

    Yes, legal aliens must have their documentation with them at all times. Not every Hispanic MLB player is a legal alien. Some of them are US citizens.
    Prove you are a US citizen to a policeman when you’ve been pulled over for a routine traffic stop. Go ahead. Hope you aren’t counting on using your driver’s license, because that isn’t actually proof of citizenship. That’s proof of your state certification to operate automotive machinery within certain restrictions. Some states require a birth certificate or other legal documentation to get one, but not all do. Also, and not coincidentally, a birth certificate is only proof of citizenship if you happen to have been born here, and that is not a requirement of citizenship.

  4. ThatRogue - Apr 30, 2010 at 4:53 PM

    Well, it probably will impact minor leaguers more, because of the Arizona League and the Arizona Fall League. As there is no Minor League Baseball Players Association, the MLBPA stance is the only collective voice any player will have.
    As to the impact on non-illegal residents, as I understand the new law, it gives the police and local authorities the right to stop anyone suspected of being an illegal resident and request id. This means that U.S. citizens will (not could, will) be impacted, along with non-citizen legal residents. People walking on a street…having lunch…in a mall…driving to work…driving to church…driving to the ballpark…etc. This will happen because the lawmakers and law enforcement officials are going to want to show that the new law is having an impact, so they will need to exercise the new police powers in order to “make a difference”.
    Unfortunately, doing so in Phoenix and Scottsdale is probably not going to have a significant impact on the violence and trafficking that takes place near the border…but hey, since that poor farmer was killed, they had to do something, right? I’m not trying to make light of the situation…but this new law does not seem like the right way to effectively address the issue at hand.

  5. Ross - Apr 30, 2010 at 4:54 PM

    And there’s another problem. Not all states do require you to carry an ID.
    Illinois is not exactly an unpopulated state, with 13 million people (2009 estimate), the 3rd largest city in the country, and a slightly busy international airport called O’Hare.
    Captcha: flag sightseer

  6. BCTF - Apr 30, 2010 at 4:58 PM

    “as I understand the new law”
    You do not understand the new law correctly

  7. Marty McKee - Apr 30, 2010 at 5:00 PM

    Name one. I don’t think there is any state that makes it illegal for citizens to not carry identification on their person at all times.

  8. The Common Man - Apr 30, 2010 at 5:16 PM

    You read the bill. As we discussed yesterday, it allows officers to check the legal status of any individual if they have “reasonable suspicion” during “lawful contact.” There is absolutely no definition provided for either term. And legal scholars overwhelmingly believe that there is no consensus on the definition of “lawful contact.” In fact, most of them aren’t sure. So, actually, it’s entirely plausible that a US citizen or a legal immigrant, or an illegal immigrant might be detained to have their identification and citizenship checked even if they are committing no crime.

  9. The Common Man - Apr 30, 2010 at 5:22 PM

    Great point, Ross. My employer does not accept my (in state) driver’s license as proof that I am allowed to work in this country. I had to bring my SS card, birth certificate, or passport. I’m afraid I don’t carry those other things on me at all times, and I am in Arizona a fair bit. This may spell trouble. If you don’t hear from me for a while, assume I’m being detained, pending my family flying to Arizona with one of the above documents. I hope they can find them quickly.

  10. Ed Koper - Apr 30, 2010 at 5:24 PM

    Michael Weiner is full of crap. No MLB player is in the US illegally and if MLB takes a public stance against the AZ immigration law I will never go to an MLB game again.

  11. Ron - Apr 30, 2010 at 5:26 PM

    As someone who has dealt with this, there is an easy fix. All they have to do is make a photocopy of thier passport/visa, have it notarized, and it is valid as identification purposes.
    We never carried our passports in Africa or Eastern Europe because there was too much of a chance of having your pocket picked. Everytime I was stopped by the police (usually looking for a handout) and showed them the copies, it was no issue.
    If it works in Angola, it will work in the states. I do the same thing now. Just in case.

  12. BCTF - Apr 30, 2010 at 5:30 PM

    Sure it’s plausible for someone to misinterprit a law but that doesn’t mean you should not try to inforce the laws to keep citizins of this country safe. It’s plausible that police will profile based on race, age, gender, kind of car you drive, ect when they pull people over at 2:00 am on a saturday night but it doesn’t mean the police should stop arresting people for drunk driving.

  13. Chris Musillo - Apr 30, 2010 at 5:31 PM

    I’m an immigration attorney and I’ll tell you what the problem is: it’s pretty difficult to figure out if someone is “legal” or “illegal” by their “papers.”
    For instance, it is 100% prefectly legal for someone to be here on an expired visa. Why? Because there is a difference between “visa” and “status”. “Status” is what governs one’s legality.
    The problem is that the visa is the offical-looking document (it is stamped in the passport, contains a photo). Status is governed by a flimsy-looking I-94 card, that isn’t even typed. It is hand-written by the immigration officer at the airport.
    Approximately once a month I have a client who is refused a drivers license by the local BMV because their visa is expired. In Arizona, I suspect these folks will now get arrested, and then released once the state lawyer gets involved and confirms that the flimsy I-94 card is the “real” immigration document.
    In all honesty, the law doesn’t imapct me, I don’t deal in that area of immigration law and I’m 1500 miles from Arizona, but I can tell you it’s a pretty bad law.

  14. BCTF - Apr 30, 2010 at 5:38 PM

    BTW, it’s disingenous to call yourself the The Common Man unless you are Dan Cole

  15. Jack Marshall - Apr 30, 2010 at 5:41 PM

    Baseball players who are not citizens have Visas. If they don’t, they are here illegally. I don’t know how the Player’s Union gets the gall to tell Arizona that it should give illegal immigrants a free pass (like the Federal government), and I certainly don’t see the justice in punishing the Diamondbacks, the fans and its players for a law that is the result of complex factors that extend well outside of Arizona.
    “Reasonable” is a term commonly applied in statutes relating to law enforcement. The people attacking Arizona are, for the most part, in favor of open borders, which is insane. Immigration policy is difficult and requires considerable balancing of competing rights and interests—I don’t see what the baseball union has to contribute, except for self-serving grandstanding.

  16. The Common Man - Apr 30, 2010 at 5:45 PM

    Nice straw man. But we’re talking about this law. And the fact is that, while legislatures should make laws within reason that keep citizens safe (and restricting the flow of illegal immigrants and goods across our Southern border can and should be considered reasonable), this law is a bad law because it is unconstitutional on its face, and ensures that American citizens (not immigrants) will be subject to suspicion simply because they are brown and live relatively near the US-Mexican border. Again, read the damn bill.

  17. Charles Gates - Apr 30, 2010 at 5:45 PM

    Here’s my understanding of the law: Law enforcement can stop anyone they want, for any reason they want, if they suspect that they might be in the country illegally.
    Sure, it’s easy to see how Latinos can be adversely targeted by the law in AZ, but what’s to stop the police from searching every guy and gal walking down the street? Sheeeeeet, they’d probably reel in a few outstanding warrants that way.
    Catch the criminals? That’s good. But doing it in such a way that diminishes all of our freedoms is unacceptable. This law puts us half a step away from having the government enter our homes without reason ‘just to check to make sure nothing illegal is going on.’ If you think the intrusion will stop at Latinos, you’re kidding yourself. Just wait for any career driven police officer that needs a bump in their numbers to make rank. Of course, when it starts to affect white people, then it sooo wrong.

  18. Bobomo - Apr 30, 2010 at 5:48 PM

    I’m glad. All talking points aside, the law as written is open to massive amounts of interpretation. Many people (not just “liberal activists” whatever that means) interpret it as a license for law enforcement to racially profile, and that should be of concern to everyone. If you consider yourself a libertarian (it’s all the rage these days) you should be concerned by any law that gives law enforcement more power, whether you agree in principle or not.
    I think it is right for the union to make a statement, and it was likely spurred by players whose families live in Arizona during the season. Immigration law is complex, and I’d imagine many of these players have it all taken care of by their teams. They need to feel the union is doing the same for their family while they are entertaining white people in Boston.
    We need more cultural understanding and interaction, not less. We need Torii to understand *why* some Latin players look like him, and we need Vlad Guerrero to give post-game interviews in English. I fear a bunch of teabagging idiots from Arizona just set us back another 5 years. I sincerely hope that Latin ballplayers push back in a meaningful, positive way.

  19. BCTF - Apr 30, 2010 at 5:49 PM

    are brown and live relatively near the US-Mexican border. Again, read the damn bill.
    I have read the bill and it does not say anything like that. You should read the bill, not the Huffington Post or the New York Times

  20. oompaloopma - Apr 30, 2010 at 5:52 PM

    well the law will get repealed when 1/2 the mlb has a very good excuse to not go to spring training. Any excuse is a good one.

  21. The Common Man - Apr 30, 2010 at 5:57 PM

    BTW, it’s disingenous to call yourself the The Common Man unless you are Dan Cole
    I don’t know who that is. This is a pseudonym I created a few years back to blog under. It’s no more disingenuous than your decision to not comment under your real name.

  22. The Common Man - Apr 30, 2010 at 6:06 PM

    I have read it from top to bottom, friend. Here’s the problem passage: “FOR ANY LAWFUL CONTACT MADE BY A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL OR AGENCY OF THIS STATE OR A COUNTY, CITY, TOWN OR OTHER POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OF THIS STATE WHERE REASONABLE SUSPICION EXISTS THAT THE PERSON IS AN ALIEN WHO IS UNLAWFULLY PRESENT IN THE UNITED STATES, A REASONABLE ATTEMPT SHALL BE MADE, WHEN PRACTICABLE, TO DETERMINE THE IMMIGRATION STATUS OF THE PERSON.” So, the Arizona legislature makes this bill, but chooses not to define either lawful contact or reasonable suspicion, but specifically says that racial profiling is out. Can you tell me what would constitute “reasonable suspicion” of being an alien? Also, can you define for me what “lawful contact” is? Because the many excellent lawyers I have talked to and read cannot. I neither read the Huffington Post nor the New York Times (unless I’m researching their sports section for a blog post), but that’s neither here nor there.

  23. oompaloopma - Apr 30, 2010 at 6:06 PM

    Also, I find it funny when a group wants to speak out against this, its labeled as none of their business. Everyone has the right to speak up, protest, and demonstrate any law in the US.

  24. The JTrain - Apr 30, 2010 at 6:10 PM

    I think the larger issue here is state’s rights versus federal rights. When is the federal government allowed to step in and overrule a state’s law? It seems to me, if the federal government had been enforcing the laws on its books, Arizona would have not felt the need to pass this law. By the way, polls (both in Arizona and in the entire US) show overwhelming favor for this bill. 70% of Arizonans are in favor and >65% of Americans are in favor, according to polls I’ve seen.
    Again, as other commenters have mentioned, I see no problem with providing documentation when asked for it. If I was traveling in Europe or somewhere else in the world, I’d have my passport on me at all times, and be ready to present it if asked. Here in the states, I always carry my DL. If the cops want to see it, I’ll be glad to show it to them.

  25. oompaloopma - Apr 30, 2010 at 6:12 PM

    I read the damn bill, it states “reasonable suspicion” define that one for me. I will if you look mexican and speak spanish I suspect you may be an illegal alien, show me some ID. If the US government were to try to stop illegal canadians, lol, then “reasonable suspicion” might apply to more of US.

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