Sunday, September 25, 2016
ESPN reports some very sad news from Major League Baseball. Miami Marlins pitching ace Jose Fernández, just 24 years old, was killed in a boating accident in Florida early this morning. The U.S. Coast Guard said Fernandez was one of three people killed in a boat crash off Miami Beach.
Fernández was born in Cuba and made three unsuccessful attempts at defecting before he was successful. He was selected by the Marlins in the 2011 MLB draft. Fernández made his MLB debut with the Marlins on April 7, 2013. He was named to the 2013 MLB All-Star Game and was later named National League Rookie of the Year.
Fernández became the first pitcher in the modern era to win his first 17 career home decisions, as well as go 24-1 in his first 25 home decisions. He was one of the top pitchers in Major League Baseball at the time of his death.
Fernández attempted to defect unsuccessfully three times; each failed defection attempt was followed by a prison term. Fernandez, along with his mother and sister, successfully defected in 2007. On that attempt, José's mother fell overboard and José had to dive into the water to save his mother's life.
Saturday, August 27, 2016
Michele Waslin for the American Immigration Council reports that nearly 50 foreign-born athletes proudly represented the U.S. as part of the Olympic team in Rio de Janeiro, and eight of them won medals.
- Kerron Clement, born in Trinidad and Tobago, won Gold in the men’s 400 meter hurdles (Track and Field).
- Kyrie Irving, who won gold with the U.S. Men’s Basketball team, was born in Australia to U.S. citizen parents and has dual citizenship.
- Paul Chelimo, originally of Kenya, won Silver in the men’s 5,000 meter race (Track and Field). Chelimo is one of four immigrant Olympians who enlisted in the Army, train with the military’s World Class Athlete Program (WCAP), and competed for the U.S. in track and field.
- Danell Leyva, who defected to the U.S. with his family from Cuba, won two individual Silver medals in Gymnastics.
- Steffen Peters, who was born in Germany and became a U.S. citizen in 1992 won a team bronze in Dressage (Equestrian).
- Phillip Dutton, who was born in Australia, won an individual bronze in Equestrian.
- Dagmara Wozniak, who was born in Poland and came to the U.S. with her parents as a child, was part of the Bronze medal winning Saber Fencing team.
- Foluke Akinradewo, born in Canada to Nigerian parents, won Bronze as a member of the Women’s Volleyball team.
The diversity of this year’s team was evident, not only in the athletes but also their parents, coaches, and all others who helped the team succeed. Geno Auriemma, coach of the gold medal winning women’s basketball team, was born in Italy and came to the U.S. with his family when he was a child. Marta Karolyi, national team coordinator of the gold medal winning women’s gymnastics team was born in a part of Hungary that is now Romania. She and her husband defected to the U.S. in 1981.
Monday, August 22, 2016
I was watching the finish of the Marathon in the Olympics yesterday and was not sure what the Silver Medal winner was trying to convey. MSN explains that, when he crossed the Olympics marathon finish line, Feyisa Lilesa put his hands above his head in an "X." Lilesa was protesting the Ethiopian government's killing of hundreds of the country's Oromo people — an ethnic majority that has long complained about being marginalized by the country's government. The group has held protests this year over plans to reallocate Oromo land. Many of those protests ended in bloodshed.
According to Human Rights Watch, more than 400 people have been killed since November. For months, the Oromo have been using the same "X" gesture that Lilesa, 26, used at the finish line.
Fearing for his life, Lilesa may not be returning to Ethiopia.
Saturday, August 6, 2016
Michele Waslin for the American Immigration Council reminds us that, as the Olympics kick off in Rio de Janeiro, the U.S. is well-represented by its citizens – both native and foreign born. Forty-seven of those competing on Team USA were born outside of the country.
Some like basketball star Kyrie Irving, Boyd Martin who competes in equestrian, rugby player Madison Hughes, and water polo player Tony Azevedo were born abroad to U.S. citizen parents. Others, like sailor Bora Gulari, tennis player Denis Kudla, and fencer Dagmara Wozniak, came to the U.S. as children with their parents. Still other Olympians, like canoeist Michal Smolen, immigrated for college or as adults.
Their stories remind us how immigrants come from all over the world and contribute their talents to the U.S. Runner Charles Jock was born in a refugee camp in Ethiopia after his parents fled civil war in Sudan. He came to the U.S. with his family at age three where they were granted asylum and settled in San Diego. Nick Delpopolo, who competes in Judo was born Petra Perovic in Montenegro where he spent his first 21 months in a dirt-floor orphanage. He was adopted by American parents and grew up in New Jersey.
The first-ever Refugee Team is a hit at the Olympics in Rio. According to news reports (and here), the crowd at Maracanã Stadium during the Olympic opening ceremony last night reserved its loudest cheers for the Refugee Olympic team. The International Olympic Committee previously announced that it would field a team under its own flag earlier; It announced a 10-person team in June. The team of six men and five women fled their home countries — Syria, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Democratic Republic of Congo. They are swimmers, runners, and judokas.
The International Olympic Committee named 800m runner Rose Nathike Lokonyen, originally from South Sudan, to be the team’s flagbearer at the opening ceremony. Rose carried the Olympic flag. The young runner arrived in Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya in 2002 and is part of the Tegla Loroupe Foundation.
In more Olympics news, NBC reports that people living in the world’s largest refugee camp will now be able to watch the 2016 Rio Olympics. The International Olympic Committee has partnered with FilmAid International, an organization that brings film to displaced people across the world, to broadcast the games for almost 200,000 people living at the refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya, for the next 16 days, according to olympic.org.
Monday, July 4, 2016
Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano got his name from his father, who admired baseball great Jackie Robinson. Born in the Dominican Republic, Cano came to the United States to play baseball. In 2012, Cano became a U.S. citizen.
Cano was born Oct. 22, 1982 in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic. The city is often called “The Cradle of Shortstops” because so many of them have come out of this city. His father, Jose Cano, played briefly with the Houston Astros in the 1980s Cano spent most of this childhood in the Dominican Republic.
Canó is a six-time All-Star (2006, 2010–2014) and five-time Silver Slugger Award winner (2006, 2010–2013). He won two Gold Glove Awards (2010, 2012) and has been named American League Player of the Month twice (September 2006, April 2010). In 2011, Canó won the Home Run Derby. He was a member of the Yankees' 2009 World Series championship team and the Dominican Republic's 2013 World Baseball Classic championship team, for which he won the tournament's most valuable player award.
Friday, July 1, 2016
This story is nothing less than an immigration nightmare! .
Bubacarr Jobe was born in Gambia, a tiny West African nation where a third of the population earns less than $1.25 a day. His passage to his soccer dream consisted of flights to Senegal, Morocco, Newark (N.J.), St. Louis, Memphis and finally Houston. Jobe, or “Buba” as he’s known, misses those Houston skyscrapers. There’s a chance he won’t see them again, because Bubacarr Jobe is a young man has an immigration crisis. He is an athlete with a team but without a country.
Buba Jobe’s journey to the United States began in 2011. When he arrived in Texas, just 16 years old, he found himself stunned by luxuries like hot water and electricity and baffled by animals who lived inside people’s homes.
Soon after he got to Houston, Buba tore his ACL. The coach of the Rush, Don Gemmell, along with his wife, Brooke, took him in. Through the rehab, the three became close.
Gemmell hoped to help Buba stay in the U.S., and a lawyer advised him to obtain a Special Immigrant Juvenile Visa. The family went ahead. But before that process was complete, Buba turned 18 and his visitor’s visa had expired.
“He became unlawfully present,” says John Sandweg, a former general counsel for the Department of Homeland Security. “He became illegal.”
The family wasn’t aware of this mistake until they traveled to Canada to apply for the new visa at the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa. Officials there looked at his case, immediately saw that Buba was in the U.S. without a valid visa, and banned him from returning to the States for 10 years.
“We were horrified,” Gemmell says. “My wife was in tears. So here we are in Ottawa. We have to put him on a train to Toronto to my hometown. Buba has never set foot on a train. It was so gut-wrenching saying goodbye. He was supposed to come back and play in the USL (United Soccer League).”
The Gemmells went back to Texas. Buba went to London, Ontario, to stay with Gemmell’s extended family.
“We all go to Canada and then I get rejected and they have to go back to the USA,” Buba says. “It was scary.”
Buba remains separated from his only family in the US while he lives in Canada.
Sunday, June 12, 2016
Cindy Boren of the Washington Post reports that Emily Austen, a Fox Sports Florida and Fox Sports Sun sideline reporter who covers the Tampa Bay Rays and Orlando Magic, has been taken off the air after making derogatory, racist and anti-Semitic remarks on Barstool Sports' "Rundown" show this week. Austen disparaged Mexican, Chinese and Jewish people, as well as Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love, on the daily show broadcast on Facebook Live. Asked about a high school valedictorian who said on Twitter that she was an undocumented immigrant, Austen said: "I didn't even know Mexicans were that smart. . . .That's f---- up. I didn't mean it like that. You see, you guys know that the Chinese guy is always the smartest guy in math class."
The above is an excerpt of the video, the entirety which can be found on Vimeo.
Saturday, June 4, 2016
Go Refugee Olympic Team! As the Washington Post reports, they hail from Syria, South Sudan, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. They’ve fled war and the destruction of their homelands. They’ve boarded inflatable boats and grown up in refugee camps. And they are all athletes who will compete on the world’s biggest stage in August.
The International Olympic Committee on Friday announced members of its first-ever Olympic team comprised of refugees. The six men and four women belonging to the Refugee Olympic Team will compete in swimming, judo, and track and field events — and they’ll be the first to enter Rio’s Olympic stadium for Opening Ceremonies, wielding the Olympic flag, marching in before host nation Brazil.
The athletes are:
- Rami Anis (M): Country of origin – Syria; host NOC – Belgium; sport – swimming
- Yiech Pur Biel (M): Country of origin – South Sudan; host NOC – Kenya; sport – athletics, 800m
- James Nyang Chiengjiek (M): Country of origin – South Sudan; host NOC – Kenya; sport – athletics, 400m
- Yonas Kinde (M): Country of origin – Ethiopia; host NOC – Luxembourg; sport – athletics, marathon
- Anjelina Nada Lohalith (F): Country of origin – South Sudan; host NOC – Kenya; sport – athletics, 1500m
- Rose Nathike Lokonyen (F): Country of origin – South Sudan; host NOC – Kenya; sport – athletics, 800m
- Paulo Amotun Lokoro (M): Country of origin – South Sudan; host NOC – Kenya; sport – athletics, 1500m
- Yolande Bukasa Mabika (F): Country of origin – Democratic Republic of the Congo; host NOC – Brazil; sport – judo, -70kg
- Yusra Mardini (F): Country of origin – Syria; host NOC – Germany; sport – swimming
- Popole Misenga (M): Country of origin – Democratic Republic of the Congo; host NOC – Brazil; sport – judo, -90kg
The world has lost a legend. For tributes to Muhammed Ali, boxing great, Olympian, humanitarian, and cultural icon, see
In 1967, three years after winning the heavyweight title, Ali refused to be drafted into the armed services, citing his religious beliefs and opposition to the war in Vietnam. He was tried and convicted of draft evasion and stripped of his boxing title. Ali did not fight again for nearly four years. The U.S. Supreme Court in 1971 overturned his conviction. Ali's actions as a conscientious objector made him a countercultural icon.
Nicknamed "The Greatest", Ali was involved in several historic fights. Besides beating Sonny Liston twice, Ali had three fights with then-bitter rival Smoking Joe Frazier, and "The Rumble in the Jungle," which some say was his best fight, with George Foreman.
Ali will be missed.
Friday, February 5, 2016
Running back Juwan Thompson, 23, is on the Denver Broncos. Thompson was born in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, an insular U.S. territory. U.S. Virgin Island residents are U.S. citizens so Thompson technically is not "foreign-born."
Super Bowl 50 is this Sunday and the parties no doubt will be memorable. Behind the scenes, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been at work in ensuring safety and security for all at this big event.
Yesterday, DHS announced two new partnerships between the DHS Blue Campaign, the unified voice for the Department’s efforts to combat human trafficking, and the California Hotel & Lodging Association (CH&LA) and the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC) Altamont Corridor Express (ACE). This announcement is especially important as the Department continues its efforts to help ensure the security of visitors and fans for Super Bowl 50. High-profile events, like the Super Bowl, draw large crowds and have become lucrative opportunities for criminals engaged in human trafficking. CH&LA and SJRRC ACE will display Blue Campaign materials at lodging and railway stops throughout California, providing residents and visitors to the area with information about the indicators of human trafficking and how to report it. Materials will also have resources and information on how to receive support for potential victims.
Monday, February 1, 2016
The 2016 Olympics are already making the news. The torch for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro will pass through a refugee camp in Athens and one refugee will be among the torch bearers, the head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said last week. The torch will be lit in Greece's ancient Olympia on April 21 before leaving for Brazil. It will arrive in Brazil on May 3 to start its 100-day relay across the country.
Greece became the main gateway for refugees fleeing war and persecution in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. "The Olympic flame will pass through this camp here and will be shown to the refugees," IOC head Thomas Bach said during a visit to a refugee camp in Athens.. "One of the refugees will be invited to carry the torch."
The IOC has said that top athletes who are refugees with no home country to represent will be allowed to compete at the Rio Games under the Olympic flag.
Sunday, December 20, 2015
Born in 1979 in Cuba, Luis Ortiz is the current World Boxing Association interim heavyweight champion. Nicknamed "The Real King Kong," Ortiz is known for his size, punching power, and counterpunching skills.
Thursday, September 24, 2015
Sadly, baseball legend Yogi Berra died earlier this week. As it turns out, it has been reported that Berra benefited from the 14th Amendment's birthright citizenship provisions. was he an "anchor baby"? "It's déjà vu all over again."
Hat tip to my colleague Cappy White.
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
During National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 to October 15), we recognize the contributions made and the important presence of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States and celebrate their heritage and culture.
Hispanics have had a profound and positive influence on our country through their strong commitment to family, faith, hard work, and service. They have enhanced and shaped our national character with centuries-old traditions that reflect the multiethnic and multicultural customs of their community.
Hispanic Heritage Month, whose roots go back to 1968, begins each year on September 15, the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico, Chile and Belize also celebrate their independence days during this period and Columbus Day (Día de la Raza) is October 12.
President Obama issued this proclamation yesterday on Hispanic Heritage Month.
Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Former Immigrant of the Day Fernando Valenzuela, who was born in Mexico, was a star pitcher for six different teams during his Major League Baseball career, most notably the Los Angeles Dodgers, with whom he pitched from 1980 to 1990. Thanks in part to his Mexican heritage and a devastating screwball, Valenzuela touched off an early 1980s craze dubbed "Fernandomania." That year, Valenzuela became only player in Major League history to win both the Rookie of The Year award and the Cy Young Award in the same season.
One of the more amazing stats was Valenzuela's dominance against their rivals, the San Francisco Giants. He was an unbelievable 33-2 with a 1.15 E.R.A. against the Giants and pitched 10 one hitters against the orange and black. Valenzuela no doubt was happy last night was happy as his Dodgers beat the Giants with a stellar pitching performance by Zack Greinke.
The New York Times reports on Valenzuela's recent naturalization and becoming a U.S. citizen. Although he works as a Spanish-language broadcaster for Dodgers games, he rarely does interviews and, outside calling games, keeps a low media profile. According to the Times, Valenzuela declined to take part in a news conference about his new status or to do any interviews.
Hat tip to blogger extraordinaire Kit Johnson for letting me know about this Dodgers-related immigration event.
Monday, August 24, 2015
Born in Sydney, Jarryd Lee Hayne who plays for the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League. He previously starred playing professional rugby for the Parramatta Eels of the National Rugby League.
ESPN has kept its eyes on Jarryd Hayne, the Australian rugby star attempting to cross over as an NFL player. In the 49ers preseason game last night against the Dallas Cowboys, Hayne again impressed as a punt returner and running back. The 49ers beat the Cowboys 23-6. In ESPN's words,
"A surprise player who looks amazing: The Jarryd Hayne Show continued. A week after the Australian rugby star accounted for 120 total yards in Houston, Hayne returned three punts for 84 yards, with each return eliciting more oohs and ahhs. His first punt return, though, was especially epic in that he made like Willie Mays with an over-the-shoulder catch before bringing it back 27 yards. He also had eight carries for 54 yards while flashing his stiff-arm to Cowboys safety Jeff Heath in the open field on a 23-yard run to the left. So, in two preseason games, the Aussie has 258 total yards, averaging 9.0 yards per carry, 21.6 yards per punt return and 33.0 yards per kickoff return."
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
There has been a fair amount written in recent years about Major League Baseball being dominated in the modern times by Latino ballplayers, many of them foreign-born. But, according the to latest statistics from ESPN, 80 percent of the leading hitters at this point in the 2015 season are homegrown:
1 Paul Goldschmidt ARI .338 POB: Wilmington, Deleware
4 Gerardo Parra MIL .328 POB: Santa Barbara, Venezuela
5 Dee Gordon MIA .326 POB: Windermere, Florida
1 Jason Kipnis CLE .326 POB: Northbrook, Illinois
2 Prince Fielder TEX .325 POB: Ontario, California
3 Nelson Cruz SEA .324 POB: Monte Cristi, Dominican Republic
4 Eric Hosmer KC .318 POB: South Miami, Florida
5 Michael Brantley CLE .313 POB: Bellevue, Washington
Sunday, June 28, 2015
The National Basketball Association draft was last week. As ImmigrationProf blog has highlighted, the NBA has increasingly gone international. The draft reflected thius and Satnam Singh became the first basketball player from India to be drafted by an NBA team. The Dallas Mavericks selected the 7-foot-2-inch, 19-year-old with the 52nd pick in the draft.
Here are the details about Singh. Although Canadian-born Sim Bhullar became the NBA's first player of Indian descent last year, Singh would be the first player actually born on the subcontinent to make the league.
Singh was born in a village in Punjab with just 700 inhabitants. They nicknamed him "Chhotu" -- Punjab for "Little One." There were no basketball courts there -- his dad's wheat farm is 4 miles from the nearest paved road -- so he was sent off to a basketball academy at age 12.
ESPN reports that three of first seven players drafted are international players. The Orlando Magic took Mario Hezonja (Croatia) with the fifth pick after the New York Knicks took Kristaps Porzingis (Latvia) at No. 4. The Denver Nuggets made it three international players when they took Emmanuel Mudiay (Congo) with the seventh selection. The only year there were more international players taken in the top 10 was 2011 (four players). With the 26th pick, the San Antonio Spurs took Nikola Milutinov (Serbia). The Spurs have drafted nine international players in the last 10 years, the most by any team.