Three Strikes Against Arizona Immigration Law17 May 2010
Baseball has a unique hold on the American imagination: sacrosanct in its way, and just short of being a national religion, it is the National Pastime and the Quintessentially American Game. Pundits of the Left and Right, arguing as they might about politics, will get all dewy-eyed and rhapsodic when baseball enters the conversation. There’s no explaining it, but it has that effect on people, and that may be part of its appeal. It’s a place of respite from the cares of the world outside.
Normally, baseball is a politics-free zone, but these are not normal times. At the end of April, the Major League Baseball Players’ Association waded into the Arizona immigration controversy with a statement condemning the new law. Why? Baseball may be the American National Pastime, but a healthy proportion of its players come from overseas – mostly Latin America. As the MLBPA pointed out, the Arizona law will not just affect the Arizona Diamondbacks and their families; it will affect the “hundreds of international players on opposing Major League teams [who] travel to Arizona to play the Diamondbacks,” not to mention the fifteen Major League teams that go to Arizona for spring training each year. (See Statement of MLBPA Executive Director Michael Weiner Regarding Arizona Immigration Law (PDF 110KB), 30.Apr.2010.)
Moreover, the MLBPA explained, “[a]ll 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. The law also may affect players who are U.S. citizens but are suspected by law enforcement of being of foreign descent.”
The MLB Players’ Association went on to say that they oppose the law as written, and hope it will be “repealed or modified promptly,” promising to consider “additional steps necessary to protect the rights and interests” of their members, if the law goes into effect. The baseball players are on the right side of history. If they don’t win, it’s a shame.