Monday, July 26, 2021

The Olympics' refugee team is a 'symbol of hope' in Tokyo.


The Olympics in Tokyo has been dominating the news.  29 stateless athletes are hoping to raise awareness of the more than 80 million forcibly displaced people around the world as part of the Refugee Olympic Team.  It is the second refugee team in history, Biwa Kwan reports for SBS World News. The first Refugee Team competed at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. 

CNN reported that an Iranian taekwondo athlete competing for the Refugee Olympic Team made her mark at Tokyo 2020 after she defeated two-time Olympic gold medalist Jade Jones.  Kimia Alizadeh beat Team Great Britain's Jones 16-12 on Sunday in the women's -57kg taekwondo round of 16.  She then overcame China's Lijun Zhou in the quarterfinals before losing to Turkey's Hatice Kubra Ilgun in the bronze medal match.  Had Alizadeh won that match she'd have secured the Refugee Olympic Team's first ever medal since its creation in 2016.

Go Olympic Refugee Team!


July 26, 2021 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Immigrant of the Day Leads Milwaukee Bucks to NBA Championship


Two time Immigrant of the Day, National Basketball Association superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks) is now an NBA champion!

Read about the "Greek Freak's" amazing immigration story, which began as follows:

"In December 1994, Giannis Antetokounmpo was born in Athens, Greece, to Nigerian immigrants. His parents arrived in the country without legal status in search of better employment opportunities. While in Greece, Giannis’ family faced the dual threats of potential deportation back to Nigeria and anti-immigrant attitudes within Greek society. 

As a teenager, Giannis avoided going out at night for fear of being attacked by members of Golden Dawn, a neo-Nazi party responsible for numerous assaults on immigrants."

Earlier this week, Giannis scored 50 points, earned the NBA Finals' Most Valuable Player, and led the Bucks to an NBA championship by defeating the Phoenix Suns.

Formerly stateless, Antetokounmpo is now on top of the NBA world.


July 22, 2021 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 9, 2021

Forty years later, Fernando Valenzuela still a Mexican American icon


It is baseball season and spring 2021 feels a bit more normal in a pandemic

Gustavo Arellano for the Los Angeles Times writes of Fernando Valenzuela, the Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher who stormed into the Major League Baseball world in 1981.  Born in Mexico, Valenzuela had a storybook year.

On Opening Day in 1981, Valenzuela pitched a 6-0 shut out against the Houston Astros.  He started the season 8–0 with five shutouts and an ERA of 0.50. Valenzuela's pitching motion—including a glance skyward at the apex of each wind-up—drew attention as well.  An instant star, Valenzuela drew large crowds every time he pitched. Some commentators called the craze  "Fernandomania."  Valenzuela became the first player to win the Rookie of the Year and Cy Young Awards in the same year. He also was the first rookie to lead the National League in strikeouts. The Dodgers won the World Series that year.

Arellano writes that, years later, legendary Dodger announcer Vin Scully described the frenzy of Fernandomania as a “religious experience.” 

The Los Angeles Times invited subscribers to the exclusive premiere of the first installment of “Fernandomania @ 40,” the Times’ documentary series that examines  Valenzuela’s impact on the Dodgers, Major League Baseball and the Latino community in Los Angeles.
Valenzuela is beginning his fourth season calling games on SportsNet LA in Spanish and his 16th season as a Dodger broadcaster.
In 2015, Valenzuela became a U.S. citizen. He is a previous ImmigrtaionProf Immigrant of the Day.

April 9, 2021 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 2, 2021

Immigrant of the Day: Joseph Pilates

Joseph Pilates, creator of the core-strengthening exercise that is popular among dancers and sufferers of back pain, is featured in a fascinating human interest story on Narratively.

Pilates was born in Germany in 1883. He suffered from asthma, rickets, and rheumatic fever as a child. He sought to improve his own health and had an unexpected opportunity while interned during World War I. Upon imprisonment he asked "could he reimagine the capabilities of the human body through an anatomically based method of training, taking inspiration from scientific treatises, the carefree movement of children, and the deterous ease of cats?"

During that dark period, he met people whose imprisonment left them sedentary and their spirits depleted. The early exercises involved rudimentary machines built of metal coils lying around the camp and headboards from hospital beds. They enabled strengthening... and breathing. "Above all, laern how to breathe correctly," was his mantra. The exercises were adapted over the years and Pilates founded a Body Conditioning Gym in New York City in the 1920s.

Word spread throughout Manhattan. “He wants the whole human race to be beautiful and healthy — and barring acts of God, he can tell them how,” New York fashion editor Marie Beynon Ray observed as she went to his studio and trained with him.

Today more than 12 million people practice pilates.


April 2, 2021 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 21, 2021

From Rural Nigeria to the NCAA Tournament



Maybe the world is slowly returning to normal.  March Madness -- the NCAA basketball tournament -- is back!

Gordon Monson for the Salt Lake Tribune reports on an incredible journey of a college basketball player.  

A junior forward for BYU,  Gideon George just a few years ago played basketball on the ragged black top courts in Minna, the capital city of the Niger State.  The average annual income in Minna is estimated in some reports to be about $500.

George started gathering up high-tops and low-tops when he first came to America to play at New Mexico Junior College, after he saw a teammate throwing a pair of used shoed into the garbage. George soon was collecting hundreds of shoes — Nikes, Jordans, Adidas, Converse, New Balance, Buster Browns, Hush Puppies, anything — as a part of an effort made by the Time Out 4 Africa Foundation to be distributed to those in need.

George grew up in need. He first came to the United States to play junior college basketball in New Mexico, before transferring to BYU.  He comes off the bench for the Cougars, averaging just more than 12 minutes per game.

George played in the NCAA tournament. He played but UCLA beat BYU 73-62 in the first round of the NCAA tournament.


March 21, 2021 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 19, 2021

Dallas Mavericks provide basketballs and goals for migrant teens housed at Dallas convention center

The Dallas’ Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center is  where as many as 3,000 migrant youth are scheduled to be housed for up to 90 days. A portion of the convention center was opened arlier this week to serve as an emergency intake site for unaccompanied migrant teens who have arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas’ Rio Grand Valley.

Yesterday, a van and a pickup truck quietly arrived at the convention center. The van was adorned in Dallas Mavericks colors and insignias. In the bed of the pickup truck were two basketball goals.

The Mavericks and other Dallas organizations were asked to provide supplies for the teens for physical activity.


March 19, 2021 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

"Anchor Baby" of the Day: Frances Tiafoe, Professional Tennis Player


President Trump often attacked anchor babies and the well-settled rule of birthright citizenship.  However, the children of immigrants have amazing stories to tell.

Called the "future face of American tennis," 23 year old Frances Tiafoe is a U.S. professional player.   He is the son of immigrants from Sierra Leone.  Tiafoe's father worked as the head of maintenance at a tennis center.  As Jerry Bembry for the Undefeated summarizes, "Constant Tiafoe and Alphina Kamara were immigrants from Sierra Leone who escaped the nearly decades-long civil war that began in the West African nation in 1991. They escaped Sierra Leone separately but met in suburban Washington, D.C., where Tiafoe worked as a day laborer and Kamara as a nurse. In 1998, in Maryland, Frances and Franklin were born."

ESPN reports on Tafoe's latest tennis match:  "Top-seeded Novak Djokovic fended off a spirited challenge from Frances Tiafoe in the second round of the Australian Open, beating the young 23-year-old American 6-3, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (2), 6-3 in a 3 1/2-hour match."

Hat tip to Cappy White.


February 10, 2021 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Immigrant of the Day: Jessica Long (Russia), Star Paralympic Swimmer



The Super Bowl is in the books.  Our Immigrant of the Day, Jessica Long, starred in one of the more memorable Super Bowl commercials.  Her moving story is described by NBC Sports:

"Jessica Long, the swimmer in a 2021 Toyota Super Bowl commercial that lasted 60 seconds, took a 7,000-mile path to becoming the second-most decorated U.S. Paralympian in history.

Long, chronicled in the film `Long Way Home: The Jessica Long Story' available on Peacock, was born in Siberia with fibular hemimelia, which means she didn’t have fibulas, ankles, heels and most of the other bones in her feet.

She was adopted by Americans from a Russian orphanage at 13 months old and raised in Baltimore. At 18 months old, her legs were amputated below the knees. She has had more than a dozen surgeries.

Long began swimming in her grandparents’ pool after church on Sundays, pretending she was a mermaid. By age 10, she swam competitively. At 12, she made her Paralympic debut at the 2004 Athens Games, earning three gold medals.

Long competed in the next three Paralympics, running her medal total to 23. For a time, she was in the same training group as Michael Phelps under coach Bob Bowman. She is expected to swim in a fifth Paralympic Games in Tokyo this summer.

Only fellow swimmer Trischa Zorn owns more Paralympic medals among Americans — an overall record 55."


February 9, 2021 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Ensuring Public Safety Tops HSI’s Mission at Super Bowl 55


Photo from website

It is almost Super Sunday!  Even with a pandemic and fewer fans in the stands than usual, the Super Bowl is a big day for security and safety and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, through Immigration and Customs Enforcement, is on it.

Here is ICE's description of its Super Bowl safety protocol:

"While the past year has looked nothing like any year in recent history, one thing that won’t be different is the presence of the men and women of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) at the Super Bowl. As it has done in other Super Bowl host cities over the last several years, HSI is working closely with local, state and federal law enforcement partners in the Tampa Bay area to provide essential public safety measures and help address criminal threats that the National Football League and host city may face leading up to and throughout Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7.

As the returning champion Kansas City Chiefs and hometown favorite Tampa Bay Buccaneers gear up for the big game, HSI and its partners are also in the midst of intensive planning and coordination to ensure that the Super Bowl LV is as safe and secure as possible. For HSI Tampa, these preparations started over a year ago, when the office first began working alongside its government partners and the NFL."

Who do you pick?  Chiefs or Bucs?  Mahomes or Brady?




February 6, 2021 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Highpoints of 2020: Immigrant Players Steal Bases And Basketballs, Not Jobs


We at the ImmigrationProf blog are trying to end a miserable 2020 on a positive note.  Immigrants are contributing big-time to U.S. sports.

In June, Stuart Anderson for Forbes wrote that the number of foreign-born players is rising in professional U.S. sports. "Rising revenues and sports salaries show native-born players have benefited and consumers (i.e., fans) are happy to experience the improved product."

“New research shows foreign-born athletes play an important role in professional sports in America. Foreign-born players make up 23% of the rosters in the National Basketball Association (NBA), 29% in Major League Baseball (MLB) and 72% in the National Hockey League (NHL),” according to a new National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) analysis. “This is the highest proportion of foreign-born players ever recorded for the NBA and MLB.”

Sports fans can see the impacts of immigrant athletes.  Mexican-born Julio Urias closed out the World Series for the world champion Los Angeles Dodgers.  One National Basketball Association mega-superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks) is a previous two-time Immigrant of the Day.  His amazing story started in Nigeria, moved to Greece, and later the United States.  Be on the lookout for a Disney biopic on the "Greek Freak."


December 30, 2020 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Highpoints of 2020: DACA Recipient Qualifies for U.S. Olympic Trials, DACA Survives in Supreme Court



2020 has been a tough year.  In closing out an abysmal time, this series is highlighting some of the year's positive events.

Runner's World reports on what could be viewed as a sad story but, in my estimation, is a story of human endurance and resilience.  And it has a good ending.

When Argeo Cruz, an assistant track and cross-country coach at Florida Gulf Coast University, ran under 2:19 at the Houston Marathon and qualified for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. As he told Runner’s World afterward, it felt like he’d reached the “American dream” his parents had for him when they immigrated to the United States from Oaxaca, Mexico, in search of a better life.

Sadly, Cruz later learned he would be ineligible to participate in the Trials because he is not a U.S. citizen.

When Cruz was 11 years old, he and his mother joined his father in the small town of Immokalee, Florida, where his father was based as a farm worker. Like approximately 700,000 young adult immigrants, Cruz is currently living in the United States through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

President Trump threatened to end DACA,  Like other DACA recipients, Cruz was relieved by the Supreme Court's decision in June rejecting the Trump administration's rescission of the DACA.



December 27, 2020 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Highpoints of 2020: LA Dodgers Win World Series and How an Immigrant's Son Became a Dodgers Owner


Needless to say, 2020 has been a tough year.  In my closing posts of the year, I will try to list a few stories that brought some relief from the hard times.

Major League Baseball had s shortened but eventful season.  In an amazing season, with a global pandemic and all, the Los Angeles Dodgers won their first World Series in decades.  And, as always,  there was an immigration story to tell.  I could tell about Mexican immigrant Julio Urias closing the series with a save and how that meant much to him because Dodger star Fernando Valenzuela had opened the door to many Mexican ballplayers. As Mike Digiovanna put it in the Los Angeles Times,

"In his mind, Urías wasn’t just helping the Dodgers win their first World Series since 1988. He was carrying on the legacy of Fernando Valenzuela, the Navojoa, Mexico native who, as a 20-year-old left-hander in 1981, sparked the Fernandomania craze and pitched the Dodgers to a championship.

`Ever since I signed, since my debut, we all know which team is most popular among Mexican and Latino people, and it’s because of what Fernando was able to do,' Urías said. `The Dodgers are famous in Mexico, and you’re familiar with what it means to put that blue on. I’m very blessed to be part of the organization.'"

That is an amazing story in itself but the immigration story that I want to tell is this:  one of the Dodger owners, Alan Smolinisky, is the son of immigrants who came to the United States from Argentina with four dollars in his pocket.  In this commentary in TIME, Smolinisky explains:

"Dad embraced America, which meant he naturally fell in love with baseball. His beloved Dodgers, who played just a few miles from the garment district in their new stadium, became part of his life. He’d attend games and sing the “Star Spangled Banner” and “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”. He learned English by permanently tuning his radio to Vin Scully’s Dodger broadcast, which was delivered in the legendary commentator’s warm, unhurried style.

With the support of my mother . . . , Dad worked his way up from sweeping floors to the head of a department. He and Mom used their savings so Dad could start a garment business that eventually would bring 30 years of success and allow him to hire and mentor new immigrants. With guidance and encouragement from Dad, many of those immigrants went on to start their own businesses, something that brought him great joy throughout his life. . . .

I arrived at Dodger Stadium with my son for my first game as an owner, 38 years after Dad took me to my first game in that same sanctuary. We arrived early. My boy wore a Clayton Kershaw jersey, I wore Fernando Valenzuela—two legendary Dodger south-paws. We watched batting practice and grabbed peanuts and dogs before lineups were announced.

When called upon to stand for the great American tradition, we rose and removed our Dodger hats placing them firmly over our hearts for the “Star Spangled Banner.” I gazed out at our country’s flag and thought of everything it represented: freedom, opportunity, hope (and, of course, baseball). In no other country on earth would my family’s story be possible."


December 26, 2020 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 19, 2020

Immigrant of the Day: Julio Urias, pitcher, Los Angeles Dodgers

Friday, September 25, 2020

Did Italy Rig a Citizenship Test for a Soccer Star?

Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz photo by Global Panorama

The NYT today reports on an overseas citizenship controversy: Did Italy rig a citizenship test to facilitate the transition of Uruguayan-born and just-left-Barcelona soccer striker star Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz (El Pistolero) to the Italian club Juventus?

Apparently, it usually takes a while to get Italian citizenship. And the nation's language test is no joke. Yet Díaz sailed through the process.

Why? Well, maybe because Juventus had tapped out its allowed number of non-European Union players. So Díaz needed to become an EU citizen.

Others waiting on Italian citizenship are pissed.

Personally, I don't find this story particularly shocking. I mean, usually we hear about citizenship-swapping around the Olympics. But this is a natural extension of that history.


September 25, 2020 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 24, 2020

American Dream: From immigrant to NFL veteran



2020 sure is a bleak year.  It is time for some good sports news.  Ryan O'Hallaran for the Denver Post tells about an immigrant from Nigeria who has made it to the National Football League.

Born in Nigeria, Jeremiah Attaochu moved to the Washington, D.C., area with his family in 2001.  The story is simple:  "Immigrant. High school star. All-time sack leader at Georgia Tech. Second-round draft pick in the NFL. And, after starts and stops in his pro career, a prominent role on the [Denver] Broncos’ defense. Signed last year . . . , Attaochu, 27, is [now] a starter . . . . In last week’s opener against Tennessee, Attaochu had four tackles, including a sack."


September 24, 2020 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The Contributions of Immigrants to Sports in the United States



Immigrant of the Day: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece), professional basketball player

Foreign-born athletes now comprise a record proportion of professional athletes in America, according to the National Foundation for American Policy, making up 23% of the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball rosters. “The average NBA player’s salary increased from $246,000 in 1982-83, when there were few foreign-born players, to $7.7 million in 2019-20, when 23% of the players were foreign-born, an increase in the average player salary of 1,254% from 1983 to 2020 (adjusted for inflation),” the report finds.

Asks Stuart Anderson in Forbes: “If it’s reasonable for the New York Yankees or Milwaukee Bucks to employ a foreign-born individual they believe to be best suited for a job, why is it wrong if a technology company does the same?”


July 28, 2020 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 12, 2020

From deportee to rising soccer star: Salvadoran immigrant deported by U.S. triumphs away from home


Kervy Robles and Camilo Montoya-Galvez for CBS News report on a deportee who was forced to forgo a college soccer scholarship in the United States  is making the most of playing soccer in El Salvador.

If the routine check-in with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in 2017 had gone as they had for nearly a decade, Lizandro would be playing college soccer on an athletic scholarship in North Carolina. Then President Trump took office.  A Major League Soccer (MLS) prospect, Lizandro and his brother Diego were deported seven months after the inauguration of the new president.

Lizandro and Diego arrived in the U.S. in 2009 at the ages of 11 and 14 with visas that were not theirs. They came to reunite with their parents and two siblings, who had previously immigrated to the United States. In 2012, the brothers were ordered removed from the county, but were subsequently granted a temporary reprieve from deportation. When that protection expired, ICE didn't deport them, but instead required them to check-in periodically.   The Trump administration changed course and ordered the removals of the brothers.

The brothers' expulsion from the U.S. forced them to rebuild their lives without their parents in a country they left as children. The story has a positive ending:

"a mixture of perseverance and good fortune has allowed the brothers to pursue their college degrees and childhood dreams of soccer stardom thousands of miles away from their family. Lizandro is now one of the most promising soccer talents in El Salvador and part of a young generation of players many expect will ultimately bolster the ranks of the national team."




Lizandro Claros Saravia, now 22, plays for C.D. FAS, the most successful club in Salvadoran history.  His older brother, Diego, and seven other family members also are on the team. 


April 12, 2020 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 30, 2020

60 Minutes Tackles The Scams Luring Teenage African Basketball Players to the US

Last night's 60 Minutes had a fascinating report about how tall, teen-aged Africans are being drawn to the U.S. under false promises of education and basketball fame. The entire report is here. CBS has posted a small snippet to Youtube:


March 30, 2020 in Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Tokyo Summer Olympics postponed

CNN reports that the summer Olympics is a peaceful global event that brings us together every four years.  The coronavirus has another victim.  Cnn reports that Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says he has reached an agreement with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach to postpone the Olympics for about one year.

Summer 2021 is the latest that these Olympics could be held, Abe said.


March 24, 2020 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Olympic Dreams Dashed for DACA Recipient?!

Despite qualifying for the Olympic trials, Argeo Cruz, an assistant cross country coach at Florida Gulf Coast University, won’t be eligible to compete for the United States in the summer Olympics because he is not a U.S. citizen, reports Greg Hardwig for the Naples News. A Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient, “Cruz, who has won eight Moe’s Firecracker 5Ks in Naples, achieved five ASUN honors while running for the [Florida Gulf Coast] Eagles in cross country. …‘I’m still going to do my best every day and try not to let the whole idea, of having an, I guess, unpredictable future try to distract me from trying to achieve my best every day,’ he said.”

Cruz cannot go back to Mexico and perhaps run in the Olympics as a Mexican citizen because he would have to give up his DACA status in the United States and the Trump administration attempted to rescind the policy and is not accepting new applicants. The attempted rescission is currently before the Supreme Court.

“The majority of my life I’ve been in the U.S.,” Cruz said. “I’d rather not take that route. Most of the people I know now are here.”


March 3, 2020 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)