Baseball players union blasts Arizona immigration law
The commissioner's office hasn't offered a comment on Arizona's new immigration law, even amid calls for Major League Baseball to move the 2011 All-Star Game from Phoenix.
But the players union spoke up Friday morning in a statement that urged Arizona legislators to repeal or modify the law. In the statement, the union threatened to take "additional steps necessary to protect the rights and interests of our members" if the law is put into practice as written. The statement did not say what those steps might be.
The law, signed by Gov. Jan Brewer last week, makes it a state crime to be in Arizona illegally and requires police to check suspects for immigration paperwork. Critics say this will lead to civil rights violations and racial profiling.
The union's statement comes a day after a coalition of civil rights groups launched a nationwide protest of Arizona Diamondbacks games to call attention to the law.
Here's the text of the statement, issued by Executive Director Michael Weiner:
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.
-- Bill Shaikin and Kevin Baxter
Photo: Marchers protest Arizona's new immigration law on April 30. Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images.