Friday, May 31, 2024

Immigrant of the Day: Luka Dončić (Slovenia)

By Erik Drost - This file was derived from: Luka Doncic (51177393625).jpg, CC BY 2.0, Link

I had the enviable opportunity to go to Game 5 of the Western Conference playoffs last night at the Target Center in Minneapolis. And, like the majority of the folks there, I was fully rooting for the Timberwolves. Sadly, our cheers, while heartfelt, were not enough to manifest success. The Timberwolves lost 124-103, leading various news outlets to call the game a "blowout" to "humiliate" the Wolves. Uh, ouch.

It's undeniable that Luka Dončić, the magical point guard for the Dallas Mavericks, was a large reason for the Mavs win. He was a (slightly-painful) joy to watch. So fluid. So accurate. He somehow makes basketball look effortless. It's not shocking that he was named the Western Conference finals MVP.

Dončić hails from Slovenia. He started his professional basketball career overseas with Real Madrid. In 2018, he joined the NBA, playing for the Mavs, and won the NBA Rookie of the Year.

Six years later, Dončić is still with the Mavs and still posting insane stats. And he's only 25!

He'll certainly be exciting to watch in the NBA finals against the Celtics. The first game is just a week away -- Thursday June 6 on ABC.


May 31, 2024 in Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 7, 2024

The Immigrant Powerhouse Playing for the SC Gamecocks

Are you glued to your TV right now? You should be! It's the final game of the women's NCAA basketball season. Iowa is playing South Carolina. You can watch on ABC.

Keep an eye out for South Carolina Center Kamilla Cardoso. She's a native of Brazil! At 6'7" with bright magenta hair, she's impossible to miss. She's killing it on the floor--getting the first tap of the game, popping baskets in, and denying Iowa shots with her impossibly long reach.

This will be Cardoso's last WNBA game. She's headed to the WNBA.


P.S. For the record, yes, I am still rooting for Iowa. But you know I've got to give the immigration shoutout when I can.

April 7, 2024 in Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 6, 2024

UConn Women's Final Four Made By Immigration

I want to get one thing clear at the outset: I was rooting for Iowa. I've been living in the Midwest for 17 years now. My besties (shoutout to Bram and Stella Elias) are Iowa immprofs. Then there's Caitlin Clark. Plus, rooting for UConn feels like rooting for the Yankees. My son's godmother is a longtime Huskies' fan (and Yankees fan, to my dismay) so I'm fully aware of their long history of NCAA Championship wins. Let's give Iowa (never a NCAA champ) a turn. As my 15-year-old would say: You feel me?

Anyhoo. UConn. It would be impossible to walk away from last night's game without feeling like UConn was an absolute powerhouse. They lost by an hair at 69-71. They played with almost no substitutions due to massive injuries over the course of the season to key teammates. They led in scoring for huge chunks of the game--at one point holding a 12 point lead.

And immigration played a huge role in their game.

How so?

Let's start at the top. The coach of UConn women's b-ball is Geno Auriemma. He was born in Italy and migrated to the U.S. with his family when he was just 7 years old. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1994 at the age of 40. That was just one year before he coached the Huskies to their first NCAA championship in 1995. Coincidence? I think not.

Next, let's talk about Nika Mühl, the Croatian native whose playing was key to UConn's first half success. She guarded the hell out of Caitlin Clark in the first half--completely throwing off Clark's game and keeping her scoring minimal. Mühl herself scored the three pointer off a steal that brought UConn within one of Iowa when just 39.3 seconds remained in the game.

Finally, let's talk about Canadian Aaliyah Edwards, a UConn forward. With her bright yellow braids, Edwards was a vision on the court. She scored 17 points for her team. Unfortunately, Edwards was also tagged with an offensive foul in the final minute of the game--a call USA Today characterized as "controversial" and which certainly contributed towards Iowa's win.

In writing this post up, I took at look at the Huskies full roster. The international flavor doesn't stop with Mühl and Edwards. Check out Inés Bettencourt from Portugal and Jana El Alfy from Egypt.

Last night's game was a roller coaster thrill ride. I'm thoroughly looking forward to Sunday's championship game: Iowa vs. South Carolina. 2PM Central. ABC.


April 6, 2024 in Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Game performance of immigrant NBA players might suffer due to anti-foreigner sentiment


Professional basketball has gone global.  "[F]rom 2010 to 2021, 21 percent of [National Basketball Association (NBA)] players who debuted in the league were foreign-born. Over time, foreign-born NBA players have come from nearly every continent representing 80 countries, as well as U.S. Territories and the U.S. Virgin Islands."

A new study looks at the impacts of anti-immigrant sentiment on the performance of NBA players who are immigrants.  And the results are fascinating if not altogether surprising.

During the 2020–2021 season of the National Basketball Association, immigrant players for teams in regions with stronger far-right political sentiments were more likely to make game errors—highlighting the effects of such views on immigrant workplace performance. Benjamin Korman and Florian Kunze of the University of Konstanz, Germany, presented these findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE. "Prior research has shown that, in regions with strong support for far-right political parties, immigrants face more prejudice and discrimination. Evidence also suggests that being exposed to anti-immigrant propaganda may hinder immigrants' performance on various tasks, and exposure to negative stereotypes about a certain group of people might boost the performance of people outside that group."

The new study hypothesized that living in areas with far-right views might increase immigrants' awareness of the possibility of being judged negatively as immigrants, disrupting their attention and causing them to make more workplace errors. To investigate that hypothesis, they analyzed data on all 522 US-based NBA players' game performance following the failed 2020 re-election bid of Donald Trump. The researchers found that immigrant players for teams based in regions with a higher percentage of presidential votes for Trump were more likely to make performance errors than immigrant players in regions with less Trump support. In contrast, the opposite was found for native players in the far-right regions. These results held true after statistically accounting for other factors that could impact performance, such as age, position, ball-possession time, number of possessions, salary and minutes of play time.

On the basis of their findings, the researchers suggest that organizations might consider steps to insulate employees from regional far-right views by, for instance, banning employees from wearing politically charged clothing and fostering inclusive environments.


November 2, 2023 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 4, 2023

The Changing (International) Face of Professional Basketball in the US


The National Basketball Association (NBA) finals featuring the Denver Nuggets and the Miami Heat continue later today.  One interesting development in the NBA is that, as reported here,

"[f]or a fifth straight year, the NBA's Most Valuable Player award will go to someone born outside of the United States. While the league has not yet announced the winner of the Michael Jordan Trophy, the finalists are Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic, and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Cameroon-born Embiid (the league's leading scorer), Serbia's Jokic (the two-time reigning MVP), and Greek-Nigerian Antetokounmpo (who hoisted the trophy in 2019 and 2020) each turned in a superlative 2022–2023 campaign . . . 

Along with Slovenian guard Luka Doncic, who at the tender age of 24 has already made the All-NBA First Team three years running, Embiid, Jokic, and Antetokounmpo are becoming the defining faces of the NBA's global brand . . . .

. . . 120 foreign-born players . . .  now constitute about one-third of the league, a total that is up from just 23 such players 30 seasons ago.

This injection of foreign talent has been a boon for the NBA and, in turn, for American basketball fans. League revenue is at a record high, and quality of play is as well, by many metrics. While their pure hoops talent is key, the NBA's foreign star quartet has accelerated the adoption of new, more free-flowing, all-court playing styles borrowed from the international game that have elevated the league's on-court aesthetic.

The NBA's adoption of talented individuals from around the globe provides a lesson for the wider American economy." (bold added).


June 4, 2023 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 19, 2023

The Ukrainian pee-wee hockey team


"From the cold of Canada’s Quebec city, there is a first at the International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament, a team of refugees from the war in Ukraine. The team trained back home as bombs fell and even skated in the dark. NBC News’ Jose Díaz-Balart speaks with the young players and witnesses an emotional moment on a video call between one of the team players and his father, who is fighting on the front lines."

The Ukrainian team had a wonderful run in the torunament.


February 19, 2023 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 13, 2023

DHS at Work During Super Bowl


February 13, 2023 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 27, 2023

Should Australia let Kanye West in?

Professor Mary Crock

Australia is no stranger to immigration controversies.  Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, also is no stranger to controversy. Mary Crock (University of Sydney) for The Conversation considers Ye's immigration issues in Australia:

"Just one year after then-Immigration Minister Alex Hawke moved to expel tennis star Novak Djokovic from Australia on character grounds, his Labor successor, Andrew Giles, is faced with another controversial visitor in the form of Ye (formerly known as Kanye West).

Although he’s both a musician and rapper, Ye may be best described as a social influencer – and one with very offensive views, especially when it comes to Jewish people and the Holocaust."

Professor Crock concludes by noting that 

"What is clear from previous cases is the fact the immigration minister has long enjoyed extraordinary power to exclude and expel non-citizens whose presence in Australia might prove unpopular. And these decisions inevitably involve political calculations. Just ask Novak Djokovic."



January 27, 2023 in Current Affairs, Music, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 16, 2022

Nigerian chess prodigy, 12, granted asylum in the United States


Here is a "feel good' story for the holiday season.  Sydney Page in the New York Times reports that

"Tanitoluwa `Tani' Adewumi rose to sudden stardom at age 8 for his striking chess skills: He beat 73 opponents and clinched the New York state chess championship for his division. At the time, in 2019, he was living with his family in a homeless shelter.

They had moved to New York from Nigeria in 2017, seeking religious asylum after the family, devoutly Christian, was threatened by the terrorist group Boko Haram and forced to flee their country.
Since Tani’s breakout state championship, his trophies have multiplied. At 10, he was named a National Master, and his current title is FIDE Master, a prestigious designation awarded by the international chess governing body. Along with his chess accolades, his life story became the subject of a book."
The asylum process for the chess prodigy and his family was not an east one.  Read the Times story for details.
Hat tip to Dan Kowalski for spreading the word about this amazing story.

December 16, 2022 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Who Represents the Country? A Short History of Foreign-Born Athletes in the World Cup


Photo of World Cup Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


World Cup mania is everywhere!  And there is an immigration angle.  Gijsbert Oonk for Migration Information Source reports that World Cup fans "may have noticed a sizable number of players born outside the country they represent on the field, especially for teams representing nations such as Morocco and Qatar. This is not unusual. Athletes born abroad have represented national teams in every World Cup since its inception in 1930, typically accounting for about one in ten players. At times, these players can raise complicated questions about national belonging, citizenship, and migration."


December 1, 2022 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 21, 2022

Migrants Hired to Work at the World Cup Opening Match Waited All Day Without Food and Water

Tariq Panja for the New York Times reports on some troubling news from the World Cup, which this year is hosted by Qatar, a nation with a human rights record that has been questioned.  "A group of more than 200 migrant laborers hired to work concession stalls at the Qatar World Cup’s opening game said they had been left without food, water and toilet facilities for seven hours while they waited for their assignments."  Most of the migrants reportedly are from India.
UPDATE (November 21, 3 p.m. PST):  For a book on migrant labor in Qatar, click here.  Hat tip to my colleague Afra Afsharipour.

November 21, 2022 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 29, 2022

NIL and International Student Athletes

On October 14, the Oklahoma Law Review hosted as symposium on Name, Image, and Likeness in College Athletics. I spoke, along with Professor Eric E. Johnson (yup, a relation) regarding the opportunities available for international student athletes to enter NIL deals.

You can see our (very brief) comments in the video below starting at 2:08:23 and ending at 2:18:48. Here's the short version:

Academics and attorneys have counseled that F-visa international student athletes are largely prohibited from benefiting from NIL income because of the visa's restrictions on employment. To the contrary, NIL income is not incompatible with F-visa status.

NIL is about the right of publicity and licensing. That is, if someone uses an athlete's name, image, or likeness without authorization, the athlete could sue for violation of their right of publicity. But if the entity that used the athlete's NIL had a license with the athlete, that license would serve as an affirmative defense to the right of publicity claim. In other words, payments made pursuant to an NIL license (if structured appropriately) are license income and not employment.

Those who have argued that F-visa international student athletes are prohibited from benefiting from NIL income because of the visa's restrictions on employment, often cite Wettasinghe v. INS 702 F.2d 641 (6th Cir. 1983). Yet that case rested on regulations--changed 11 days after the opinion--that prohibited F-visa students from working off campus "for an employer or independently." The "or independently" language is no longer in the regulations. The case also predates IRCA, which, in 1986, defined the term "employment" to specifically exclude independent contracting. Finally, the Wettasinghe case predates CCNV v. Reid, 490 U.S. 730 (1989), in which SCOTUS said that if "employment" is undefined in a statute, it means the common-law agency conception, not independent contractor labor.

There is vast gap between "employment" and "licensing income." The fact that people have been blanketly excluding international student athletes from NIL deals because of F-visa prohibitions on employment is unwarranted. That said, USCIS hasn't weighed in on this issue. And the downside of engaging in activity that the government might eventually hold to be incompatible with nature of the visa is deportation. So it's understandable why folks might be overly cautious in this space.

Our paper will be published by the OLR in 2023.


October 29, 2022 in Current Affairs, Law Review Articles & Essays, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Anti-Immigration Ad Runs During World Series


It is time for the World Series, the culmination of a wild and wooly baseball season.  The New York Post reports:

"A new political ad blasting President Biden over issues like illegal immigration and the state of the economy aired Friday during Game 1 of the World Series.

`How did we get here?' the ad begins, lamenting `low wages, high inflation, record crime' and `illegal immigration from places as far away as Pakistan.'

The ad, broadcast 11 days out from the midterm elections, was paid for by Citizens for Sanity and appeared to be targeting Latino voters — with the narrator speaking with a clear Hispanic accent. 

`Our cities are a mess. Public services are a nightmare. But instead of helping us, Joe Biden has sent $66 billion to Ukraine. Weapons worth billions more. And now, Joe Biden says his fight in Ukraine could lead to nuclear Armageddon. World War III.

`You know what I say? No mas,' the ad concludes." 

A group called Citizens for Sanity ran the ad. Politifact refers to "Citizens for Sanity [as] a conservative nonprofit whose leaders are associated with the America First Legal Foundation, which was founded by former Trump administration official Stephen Miller."  Th4e group ran similar ads during the Los Angeles Dodgers/San Diego Padres series.

The Philadelphia Phillies won the first game of the Series over the Houston Astros 6-5 in 10 innings.


October 29, 2022 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Fans outraged with MLB and FS1 for running “Citizens for Sanity” immigration political ad during LA Dodgers/San Diego Padres Playoff Series

It has been a tough few days for this Los Angeles Dodgers fan.  After having an amazing season with the best record in Major League Baseball, The Dodgers lost a series to the San Diego Padress in the Major League Baseball playoffs last weekend.  

There is an immigration angle to the Dodgers' demise.    According to Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times, the “Citizens for Sanity” commercial aired on FS1 during the mid-fourth inning break of the NLDS finale between the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers. The ad also aired during the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves series on FS1.


And that's why the Dodgers lost.  


October 18, 2022 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 30, 2022

Proud to be an American: Professional basketball star now U.S. citizen


Top scorer in the National Basketball Association and All-Star, Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers was sworn in as a U.S. citizen two weeks ago, reports Dan Gelston of the Associated Press. "A native of Cameroon who also holds French citizenship, Embiid was sworn . . . in Philadelphia as an American citizen.""I’ve been here for a long time," said Embiid. "My son is American. I felt like, I’m living here and it’s a blessing to be an American. So I said, why not?" 


September 30, 2022 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 9, 2022

U.S. Open Immigrant Workers Say Their Wages Were Stolen

The glamor of the U.S. Open tennis tournamentt does not extend to the workers who keep it running, writes Amir Khafagy for Documented.

Over $4,500 is owed to workers, including 71-year-old Maria and her sister Luz, who prepared food for fans at the 2021 U.S. Open.

Both women spent over eight hours a day washing, peeling, and cutting fruits and vegetables. They were unpaid and abruptly laid off because the company said it had ‘over-hired.’

The U.S. Open’s subcontractor in this case, appears to have a long track record of wage theft. Read now on Documented


September 9, 2022 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 4, 2022

ESPN: Refugee to role model: Ramla Ali


Michael Rothstein for ESPN relays the story of Ramla Ali, a refugee from Somalia.

Ali, a professional boxer, not long ago walked through a refugee camp in Jordan "hearing stories of separation and pain, of hope and resilience with the belief that one day, a new life would come." Ali was there as an ambassador with UNICEF UK.  Ali wanted to become a voice for refugees by amplifying their stories.

Rothstein writes:

"There are many celebrities who work with UNICEF, but few like Ali. Like the children she met, Ali is a refugee. Throughout her entire life, her parents have dropped hints about the country she desperately wants to one day see but has not returned to since the family left for England when she was a toddler.

Ali's life is like a jigsaw puzzle put together. From boxing to modeling, writing a book and being a humanitarian and a champion for women in London through the nonprofit she started, she has pushed past the limits of what may have seemed possible. [A few weeks ago], when she and Crystal Garcia Nova become the first women to box professionally in Saudi Arabia on the card headlined by the Oleksandr Usyk-Anthony Joshua heavyweight title fight, Ali will once again exceed expectations. And everything Ali has done in her life traces back to the place she comes from, yet has no recollection of.

Somalia." (bold added).



September 4, 2022 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 25, 2022

Former Immigrant of the Day, David Ortiz (Dominican Republic), Inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame


A previous Immigrant of the Day and World Series MVPDavid "Big Papi" Ortiz is has been inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.  A fan favorite known for his play with the Boston Red Sox, Ortiz immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic and is a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Also inducted into the Hall of Fame was Minnie Minoso, an immigrant from Cuba, who was the first Black Latino in Major League Baseball.


July 25, 2022 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

BBC: Mo Farah says he was illegally trafficked to the UK as a child


Zahid Mahmood for CNN reports that long distance running legend Mo Farah has told the BBC that he was trafficked into the United Kingdom as a child and forced to work as a domestic servant.  Check out the BBC story for details.

The four-time Olympic gold medalist was either eight or nine years old when he was flown to the UK by a woman he had never met previously.  He then was forced to "do housework and childcare."
A new documentary by the British broadcaster set to air this week tells the story of the man known as Mo Farah. In the documentary, Farah says that his birth name is Hussein Abdi Kahin and that he was born in Somaliland.  Somaliland declared independence from Somalia in 1991 but is not recognized as a sovereign state.
"Despite what I said in the past, my parents never lived in the UK," Farah told the BBC.  He says that the family was "torn apart" after his father was killed in the civil war when he was four years old. 
"I was separated from my mother and I was brought into the UK illegally under the name of another child called Mohamed Farah," he said in.

July 12, 2022 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 18, 2022

World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Barred from Flight From UK to the United States


In boxing news from across the pond, undisputed world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury was refused entry to the United States tonight because of his former ties to Daniel Kinahan, who the United States has targeted as an organized crime leader.  Kinahan in recent years has played an important matchmaking role in professional boxing. 

It was widely reported that Fury was not allowed to board a flight from the United Kingdom to the United States by U.S. immigration officers and that more than 600 people with links to the Kinahan leader have been barred from entering the United States by U.S. authorities.

The denial of entry to the heavyweight champion of the world suggests that the U.S. government is willing to take a tough position on associates of Daniel Kinahan.


June 18, 2022 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (1)