Saturday, March 31, 2018
It is the culmination of March Madness. This weekend, we shall see who will play for NCAA Men's Basketball championship and a national champion emerging on Monday night.
The Kansas Jayhawks are in the Final Four and one of their stars, Udoka Azubuike, had a long journey from violence-torn Nigeria to the pinnacle of college basketball. It truly is an inspiring story and reveals that Azubuike is much more than just an athlete.
Azubuike's mother, who still lives in Nigeria, was issued a visa to visit the United States. She will see her son play basketball for the first time this afternoon.
It is finally baseball season! But, as The Guardian reports, there is a cloud over baseball. President Trump's immigration policies are on the mind of many Latino ball players. About one-third of all Major League Baseball players are Latino.
Baseball has long played a key role in conversations on racial equality in the United States. Jackie Robinson integrated the Major Leagues nearly eight years before Brown v Board of Education integrated public schools.
At a time when immigrants are under attack, “America’s pastime” could play a key role in helping to overcome barriers to racial equality for immigrants.
Tuesday, March 27, 2018
In February, National Basketball Association star Giannis Antetokounmpo was our Immigrant of the Day. Antetokounmpo plays professional basketball for the Milwaukee Bucks. Nicknamed the "Greek Freak," Antetokounmpo is an immigrant from Greece. His parents are from Nigeria.
Sunday, March 18, 2018
Monday, February 19, 2018
Giannis Antetokounmpo plays professional basketball for the Milwaukee Bucks of the National Basketball Association (NBA). In 2016–17, he led the Bucks in all five major statistical categories and became the first player in NBA history to finish a regular season in the top 20 in total points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. He is nicknamed the "Greek Freak."
Antetokounmpo was born in Athens, Greece on December 6, 1994, the son of immigrants from Nigeria. Three years earlier, his parents had moved from Lagos. Even though Antetokounmpo and three of his four brothers were born in Greece, they did not automatically qualify to receive full Greek citizenship. For the first 18 years of his life, Antetokounmpo had no papers from Nigeria or Greece.
The New York Times reported: "Like many other immigrants to Greece, his parents struggled to find work. Antetokounmpo and his older brother, Thanasis, helped out by hawking items such as watches, bags and sunglasses." In 2007, Antetokounmpo started playing basketball and by 2009 was playing competitively for the youth squad of Filathlitikos. Now he is an NBA star.
Antetokounmpo had a great game yesterday in a losing effort in the NBA All-Star Game.
Roughly 6 percent—or 178 Olympians—of all athletes in in this year’s games are competing for a country they weren’t born in. In fact, 12 countries are represented by athletes that are exclusively foreign-born, including Nigeria, Tonga, Bermuda, and Thailand. One of these athletes is Maame Biney, who immigrated to the United States from Ghana at age five. She is the first black woman on the U.S. Olympic speedskating team and has stunned viewers with her agility on the ice.
Another early favorite on the American team, snowboarding gold medalist Chloe Kim, whose story we have relayed previously, has an immigrant background. Her father immigrated from South Korea in 1982, bringing only $300 and a Korean-English dictionary to the United States. He spoke little English and didn’t have a college degree, but wanted to pursue a better life for himself and ultimately his family. After winning her first gold medal on Monday, Kim acknowledged the hardship her father faced coming to the United States: “Leaving your life behind and chasing your dream because your kid is passionate about this sport. I think today I did it for my family, and I am so grateful to them.”
Ironically, many of the U.S. athletes—whom are either children of immigrants or immigrants themselves—would have likely been barred from entering the United States under the merit-based system proposed by President Trump.
Here is more on immigrants in the Olympics.
Thursday, February 15, 2018
Here's another fascinating immigration story from the Olympics in Pyeongchang. Akwasi Frimpong left Ghana for the Netherlands when he was just eight. He found tremendous success as a track athlete in his adopted country, but he wasn't able to compete internationally under a Dutch flag because, as it turned out, he was an irregular migrant.
In 2008, Frimpong finally received a Dutch passport and the freedom to compete on the international stage. But an injury meant that competition would not be on the field. Instead, Frimpong headed to the ice. He started as a bobsled brakeman and then found his way to the sport of skeleton.
At Pyeongchang, Frimpong is competing not as a Dutchman but as a Ghanaian. He told CNN: "I hope I can motivate kids in Ghana to chase their dreams."
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
The children of immigrants to the United States have made the 2018 Winter Olympics most memorable.
A most magical and pivotal moment came with the performance of Mirai Nagasu. Born in California, Nagasu's parents own Restaurant Kiyosuzu, a Japanese sushi restaurant in Arcadia. They are immigrants from Japan and were working at the restaurant while Mirai was making history. .
In the span of one glorious eyeblink, Nagasu, who had been snubbed by U.S. skating officials for a spot on the 2014 Olympic team, poured all she had worked toward these past four years into the opening jump of her free skate on the final day of the team competition.
And when she landed solidly on one foot, after making 3½ rotations in the air, Nagasu made history, becoming the first American woman to land the high-risk triple axel in Olympic competition.
The Hill reports on another Olympic champion, another daughter of immigrants. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) held up Olympic snowboarding gold medalist Chloe Kim on Tuesday to argue against President Trump's call for a merit-based immigration system, saying that Kim's father would not have been allowed to come to the U.S. under the restrictions proposed by Trump. "Let's remember, Chloe Kim's story is the story of immigration in America," Durbin, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, said on Senate floor. "Chloe Kim's story is the story of people who come to these shores, determined to make a life." "They don't bring wealth. Many of them don't even bring proficiency in English. They certainly, in many cases, don't bring advanced degrees," he added. "They only come here with a determination to make a better life for themselves and a better country for all of us." Kim, 17, the daughter of South Korean immigrants, won her first gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Sunday, February 11, 2018
Keep an eye out for U.S. short track speedskater Maame Biney (Mah-May Bye-Nee) in PyeongChang. You can't miss her infectious smile and her explosive power on the ice.
Maame was born in Ghana. At five, she visited her dad in the United States and decided to stay.
Maame's first introduction to ice skating was a beginner's figure skating class. But the instructor told Maame's dad that she was "moving too fast" for figure skating, and suggested speed skating instead.
Yesterday, Maame finished second in the opening-round heat of the 500-meter short-track speedskating race. She'll compete Tuesday in the quarterfinal rounds.
Here's a short video of Maame's speedskating trials back in December.
Tuesday, February 6, 2018
London is proud of its Super Bowl champion. Born in in London to Nigerian parents, London-born running back Jay Ajayi was draped in a Union Flag as he celebrated winning Super Bowl LII with the Philadelphia Eagles.
The 24-year-old played his part in Philly's first Super Bowl victory with 57 rushing yards. The Eagles upset the New England Patriots 41-33 in the Super Bowl.
Ajayi, who lived in England until moving to America at the age of seven, embraced London grime artist Stormzy pitchside before the game and said afterwards he wanted the victory, and his story, to motivate others in the country of his birth as he became the fifth Briton to win a Super Bowl.
Monday, January 22, 2018
It will be the Philadelphia Eagles versus the New England Patriots in the National Football League's Super Bowl 52. And Immigration and Customs Enforcement will be there too. According to the ICE website,
"As the teams prepare to battle for the right to hoist the Vince Lombardi trophy as Super Bowl LII champions, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will be playing its best defense to protect the millions of fans who will be in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for the biggest sporting event of the year.
ICE has been a constant presence at the Super Bowl for many years. The agency and National Football League may seem like an odd pairing, but the two have formed an effective partnership to combat many of the threats the league and host city face leading up to and during the big game."
Besides protecting the safety of the public in connection with Super Bowl 52, ICE will seek to halt the flow of counterfeit products:
"The illegal manufacturing and sale of counterfeit goods has been one of the primary concerns of ICE and its partners during the week leading up to the Super Bowl. The practice endangers public health, the economy and restricts the competitiveness of U.S. products in the global market."
Saturday, October 28, 2017
The Houston Chronicle reports that Yuli Gurriel hit a home run into to lift the Astros to a 1-0 lead in the second inning of Game 3 of the World Series. His reaction to the homer immediately afterward has sparked controversy.
A television camera caught Gurriel appearing to ridicule Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish's Asian heritage. A giddy Gurriel, taking a seat on the bench immediately following the homer, used his fingers to act as if he was slanting his eyes and he also appeared to say, "Chinito," which translates from Spanish to English to "little Chinese boy."
Darvish is from Osaka, Japan, and has played the past six seasons in the majors leagues, with most of his time spent with the Texas Rangers. The Dodgers acquired the pitcher in a trade in late July for the stretch run and postseason.
"Of course Houston has Asian fans and Japanese fans and Asians, like, all over the place. Acting like that, you just disrespect all the people around the world. To the Houston organization, that's not OK," Darvish said.
Gurriel, a native of Cuba who's spent the past two seasons with the Astros, said he was informed during the game that he would have to answer for the gesture afterward. He has apologized.
Tuesday, August 22, 2017
Fake News Report: International soccer star may sue Breitbart for using photo in "illegal immigration" story
The Hill reports that international soccer star Lukas Podolski is considering legal action against Breitbart News for using a photo of him in an article about illegal immigration, according to a new report.
The far-right website posted a story, titled “Spanish Police Crack Gang Moving Migrants on Jet-Skis,” last week with a photo of Podolski riding a jet-ski as the lead image.
Breitbart has since replaced the photo and added a correction to the bottom of their story.
Sunday, August 6, 2017
Born into poverty in Los Mochis, Mexico, Beltran and his family slipped across the Mexican border when he was 16 in order to make a better life for themselves in the United States. .
Beltran has been in the United States since, but is now here legally thanks to a P1 work visa, which allows him to pursue his boxing career as an athlete who is "internationally recognized with a high level of achievement, evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered so that the achievement is renowned, leading or well known in more than one country."
That visa will expire in about two and a half years, at which point Beltran would have to return to Mexico. Besides impacting his career, it also would potentially tear apart his family. Beltran is married with three young children who were born in the United States and thus are U.S. citizens.
Beltran seeks to earn his permanent resident status as an "extraordinary athlete," which would allow him to received an EB-1 green card available to certain sports figures, entertainers, and Nobel Prize winners. If Beltran gets his green card, he can remain in the United States.
In his quest to remain in the United States, Beltran won a split decision last night (in a match in Los Angeles that this viewer thought was one-sided in Beltran's favor).
Saturday, June 3, 2017
Born in in the Dominican Republic, Major League Baseball player Albert Pujols is on the verge of baseball history. With 599 home runs, Pujols will soon hit number 600, a number hit by only eight others (including Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, and Babe Ruth). Now playing for the Los Angeles Angels, Pujols previously played 11 seasons for the St. Louis Cardinals, with whom he was a three-time National League Most Valuable Player and nine-time All-Star.
Pujols moved to the United States in 1996. As a rookie for the Cardinals in 2001, he was unanimously voted the NL Rookie of the Year. While with the Cardinals, he played on two World Series championship teams. After the 2011 season, Pujols became a free agent and signed a 10-year contract with the Angels.
UPDATE (June 4): Yesterday, Pujols hit home run number 600 against the Minnesota Twins.
Sunday, May 28, 2017
World events have had an impact on one NBA professional basketball player.
ABC News reports that, after being detained in Romania and having his passport revoked by the Turkish government, Enes Kanter, who plays for the Oklahoma City Thunder, is back in the United States. Kanter had been on a world tour for his Light Foundation, doing charity events to provide meals and clothes, and had already made stops in a number of countries. But after a flight from the Philippines to Bucharest, Romania, Kanter was detained by airport officials and told his Turkish passport had been "canceled." Kanter announced the situation in a video on social media, saying the Turkish government revoked his passport because of his "political views." Kanter has been a harsh critic of current president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, calling him a "dictator" and the "Hitler of our century."
According to sources, the NBA worked with the State Department to get Kanter to London late on Saturday, with Oklahoma Senators Jim Inhofe and James Lankford making calls on his behalf. Kanter is a citizen of Turkey, but he is a lawful permanent resident in the United States.
Sports Illustrated reports that the Turkish government has issued a warrant for Kanter's arrest.
UPDATE (June 3, 2017): Kanter, who later was the subject of an arrest warrant, later reported that the Turkish government had arrested his father.
Monday, May 22, 2017
USA Today reports the immigration backstory to professional boxer Ray Beltran's spectacular knockout victory of Jonathan Maicelo last Saturday night. Before the fight, Beltran (33-7-1) had been told by immigration experts that climbing into mandatory challenger position for the International Boxing Federation lightweight title would likely prove decisive in his long fight to become a green card holder after entering the United States as an undocumented immigrant from Mexico as a teen.
Beltran’s situation was first featured on USA TODAY Sports last week, as part of the Sports on the Border series.
Beltran seeks to convince U.S. immigration authorities that he is an "extraordinary athlete" and eligible for an employment-based (EB-1) lawful permanent resident visa. The visa is typically available to certain sportspeople, entertainers, and masters of the arts and sciences. Recently, he has been in the U.S. under a temporary (nonimmigrant) visa for athletes.
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
Born in Toronto, Canada, Kelly Tyler Olynyk, a professional basketball player for the Boston Celtics, had a monster game in Game 7 of a playoff series against the Washington Wizards. He played college basketball for the Gonzaga Bulldogs.
Olynyk scored 12 of his career-playoff-high 26 points over a three-and-a-half-minute stretch of the fourth quarter as the Celtics emerged with a 115-105 triumph over the Washington Wizards in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Friday, April 21, 2017
Outside reports on an interesting form of immigration consciousness-raising. While others are celebrating Cinco de Mayo with revelry, a group of swimmers will set out from a beach in San Diego and swim south, landing in Tijuana, in defiance of President Trump’s restrictions and rhetoric on immigration
In 2014, Kim Chambers became just the sixth person in history (of six total) to achieve the Ocean’s Seven, an aquatic version of the Seven Summits that involves open-water swims across the English Channel, the Catalina Channel (California), the Kaiwi Channel (between Oahu and Molokai), and the North Channel (between Ireland and England), among others. She’s also the only woman ever to swim 30 miles from the Golden Gate Bridge to the jigsaw of rock in the Pacific that is the Farallon Islands, a feat she checked off in 2015. Her latest mission: a 10K open water swim across the U.S.-Mexico border.
On the morning of Cinco de Mayo, Chambers and 11 other seasoned marathon swimmers from five countries will launch from Imperial Beach, the southernmost beach in California, just a few miles from the U.S./Mexico border. They’ll swim approximately one kilometer south along the coast, past the border, and land at Playas de Tijuana, roughly two-thirds of a mile into Mexico. On the U.S. side, they’ll be flanked by a crew of American kayakers who will carry the swimmer’s passports; once they cross the border they’ll be escorted by a team of Mexican paddlers along with representatives from the Mexican Navy.
"We want to cast a global spotlight on migration, which is a natural thing," Chambers says. After being raised on a farm in remote New Zealand, Chambers came to the U.S. to attend University of California, Berkeley. She holds a green card and lives in San Francisco.
Thursday, April 13, 2017
This week, the United States, along with Mexico and Canada, bid to host the World Cup in 2026.
As Paste reports, one of the big issues with the bid was the need to provide assurances to FIFA that "fans and players from around the world can actually enter the country" for the event. That's no small feat given President Trump's well-publicized efforts to put in place a travel ban. (And who knows what our immigration policies will look like in 2026!)
Here's what I find fascinating. Check out this statement from US Soccer president Sunil Gulati:
“We have very specifically addressed this with the president... He is fully supportive of the joint bid, encouraged the joint bid, and is especially pleased with the fact Mexico is participating in the joint bid.”
The "this" in that first sentence is the travel ban. So, I think Gulati is saying that Trump "specifically addressed" the issue of waiving whatever ban is in place in 2026 to make the country compliant with FIFA's rules regarding access to the game. Okaaay.
Gulati also says that Trump is "especially pleased with the fact Mexico is participating in the joint bid." A joint bid, I should say, that is being referred to as the "NAFTA bid."
While Trump hasn't given any recent indications of a desire to eliminate NAFTA, he sure ran on a platform that did. Is this a signal of a new warming to our NAFTA partners? Color me intrigued.