What Miguel Cabrera Says About Immigration Policy

miguel-cabrera.jpgBaseball represents the best part of American immigration policy.  Sure, most baseball players come over on non-immigrant visas but when they arrive, they become part of a team and those differences of nationality and ethnicity disappear in the fight for a playoff spot.  Well, unless you happen to be a modern-day nativist like Gary Sheffield.  In general, though, baseball is a powerful tool for US diplomacy and relations in our own hemisphere.

But while writing the filibuster the other day, I got to thinking about an often overlooked part of baseball diplomacy.  Many of the players come from poor Caribbean or Latin American countries where people often have a hard time getting visas to come visit the US.  If you’re a non superstar type of guy or even just a young guy with an opportunity to try out for a team, how do you convince a visa officer that you’re going to return to your country if things don’t pan out?  Obviously this isn’t an issue for a Johan Santana or someone like that but most players are not Johan Santana.

The New York Times addressed this very issue recently but also brought up a point that hits home for any Tigers’ fan.  Beyond simply making the team, what happens to players who have proven their worth and no longer have trouble getting a visa but then go out and commit some sort of crime?  For instance, what happens to Miguel Cabrera after his recent DUI?  Although this is Cabrera’s first DUI, it’s not his first brush with law as a result of drinking.  These incidents definitely affect his eligibility and at the very least could hold up the process the next time he applies for a US visa.

No matter what happens to Cabrera, baseball consistently remains ahead of the curve in its anticipation of social change.  In much the same way that Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in the 40’s, the flood of baseball migrants heralds an eventual shift in our thinking on immigration policy.  Although Joe Autoworker from Detroit is sure that some immigrant took his job, he’s not interested in applying this same logic to Miguel Cabrera and his fellow Venezuelans playing for the Tigers.  The problem is, Cabrera might have just taken care of that issue of his own accord.

-A

5 Comments

Playing baseball is a privilege. If these guys can’t grow up and behave, and I do not care where they are from, they should not be allowed to play. Of course, that is just my humble opinion :O)
Jenn
http://philliesphollowers.mlblogs.com/

I’m sure Cabrera will get special treatment when he reapplies for a visa. It’s inevitable that strings will be pulled and his record will suddenly be a non-issue. Cynically me, I know.

http://www.janeheller.com/confessionsblog

It’s hard to belive that he’s still residing in the States as a non-immigrant on a work Visa. By now I assumed that he’d at least have a valid I-551 Permanant Residant Card and on his way to applying for U.S. Citizenship. I’m not sure if his wife is U.S. or not, either.
–Mike
http://burrilltalksbaseball.mlblogs.com

Jane, I think you’re probably right. And you definitely don’t want to be the visa officer with your name on his refusal when someone makes a FOIA request.
Mike, spoken like a true DHS/CBP/ICE man. Although it’s probably in his best interest to stay on a work visa. Less taxes to pay that way.
-A

At least Cabrera made it back. Our own Ronald Belisario still missing in action. Last year it was the same problem. A fan nicknamed him “AWOL”. He has a drinking problem and who what else.
Emma
http://crzblue.mlblogs.com

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