Sunday, January 2, 2022

Immigrant of the Day: Luis Ortiz (Professional Boxer), Cuba


Luis (King Kong) Ortiz left Cuba on a small boat in the hopes of securing medical care for his daughter.  He had an accomplished amateur boxing career in Cuba.  Now residing in Miami, Ortiz is a top flight professional heavyweight boxer. 

On a New Year's Day pay per view, Ortiz survived two knockdowns to score a sixth-round stoppage of Charles Martin in a fight at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Florida. Click here for a boxing bio of Ortiz and information about the fight.


January 2, 2022 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 8, 2021

Cuban-born players make history in American League MLB Playoffs


It is baseball playoffs time.  The MLB website reports that the American League Division Series between the Astros and the White Sox has a playoff record for Cuban-born players.  "For the first time in postseason history, six Cubans are playing in the same October series. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is the first time that six Cubans appeared in a game, and that number could go up to seven if Aledmys Díaz plays for Houston."

José AbreuYoán MoncadaYasmani GrandalLuis RobertYuli Gurriel and Yordan Alvarez rounded out the Cuban talent that kicked off Game 1 of the ALDS between the White Sox and Astros yesterday.


The Astros won the opened 6-1.


October 8, 2021 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 9, 2021

Tokyo Olympics Close, Great Stories (and Some Immigration Ones)


The Tokyo Olympics ended yesterday.  It had many great stories, including gymnast Suni Lee's gold medal (and here).  It also had some great immigration stories, including the second Olympic Refugee Team, Poland providing sanctuary to a sprinter from Belarus. and DACA recipient Luis Grijalva at the last minute able to make it to Tokyo to compete in the 5K for his native country of Guatemala (finishing 12th and setting a new Guatemalan record).

Sally Ho for the Associated Press reports on another Olympics story that should not be forgotten.  Surfer Carissa Moore (and here) won the first Olympic gold medalist in surfing’s Olympics debut. Carissa's mother  had given her a flower hair clip before she left for Tokyo to remind the only Native Hawaiian Olympic surfer of where she came from.  Moore is still in disbelief when she's compared to Duke Kahanamoku, the godfather of modern surfing who is  memorialized in Hawaii with a cherished monument.



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

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Immigration at the Olympics: Poland Grants Visa to Belarus Olympian


ImmigrationProf has blogged on immigration stories from to the Tokyo Olympics, including the exploits of Gold Medal winner Suni Lee, the first Hmong American to compete in the Olympics, and the Refugee Olympic Team.

Graham Dunbar for Time reports on a different type of immigration story.  On Monday, Poland granted a visa to a Belarusian Olympic sprinter who said she feared for her safety and that her team’s officials tried to force her to fly home. A group that is helping athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya told The Associated Press that it bought her a plane ticket to Warsaw. The current standoff began after Tsimanouskaya criticized how officials were managing her team — setting off a backlash in state-run media back home. The runner said on her Instagram account that she was put in the 4×400 relay even though she has never raced in the event.

Tsimanouskaya was slated to fly to Poland today.  Security concerns reportedly resulted in her taking a flight to Austria.


August 4, 2021 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Japanese American swimmer Erica Sullivan wins silver, says she is "epitome of the American person"

Erica Sullivan is a Japanese-American swimmer and won silver in the 1,500 meter freestyle, finishing behind her USA teammate Katie Ledecky. Sullivan told reporters after the event that she is familiar with Japan and fluent in Japanese, having visited family in Japan many times while growing up with a mother who is a Japanese citizen and U.S. green card holder.

"It's just awesome that I get to do this and really set a landmark for women and also get to do it in Japan where I have half my famly."

In her press conference, Sullivan spoke in fluent Japanese to reporters about her upbringing and training as well as her pride in being ethnically Japanese and representing the LGBTQ+ community. She remarked that she feels like the "epitome of the American person" to be "on the podium, in Japan, as an Asian American woman whose mother is not a U.S. citizen. Her grandfather served as an architect on some of the Olympic venues in Japan. She also remarked that she is proud to win in a historical women’s event for the first time as someone who "likes women" and identifies as being gay. Her parting repartee: "I'm multicultural. I'm queer. I'm a lot of minorities. That's what America is."

Her inspiring press conference can be watched here.

Erica sullivan


July 29, 2021 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

US Gymnast Suni Lee at Olympics


BREAKING NEWS [and spoiler alerts]

The US Gymnastics team came into the Olympic competition with strong odds to win. The team was led by Simone Biles, the US all-around gold medalist in the 2016 Olympics who has dominated the sport and bcome known as G.O.A.T. (greatest of al time). The second spot on the team went to a newcomer, Sunisa Lee (a.k.a. Suni), who is the first Hmong American to compete in the Olympics. She is 18-years old and at 15-years old had barely become eligible for senior competition when she placed in the US championships that would qualify her for Olympic competition. Lee secured second place at the Olympic trials and qualified to compete in beam, uneven bars, and the all-around. Olympic watchers know that this week she contributed to a silver medal team-award for Team USA at the Olympics. This morning she went on to win the gold medal in the individual all-around. 

There will be significant media coverage in light of her Olympic achievements and her heroic floor routine, delivered unexpectedly for the team competition after her teammate Biles withdrew from competition. But her back story is even more inspiring. Lee is Hmong American and grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota. Lee's athletic success shows the commitment of her family and her Hmong community. In a Time Magazine profile story, the Athletic Director at her high school Koua Yang said:

It’s exceptional to see this kind of investment in young women in particular, says Yang. “I’ve coached Hmong women for many years and I’ve had to beg their parents to let them play. For an athlete like Suni and her family to break out of that is incredible because it takes so much support.

Her parents, John Lee and Yee Thoj, were refugees and live in the largest resettled community of Hmong outside of Laos, in Minnesota. The Hmong people fought on the side of the US in the Vietnam War, having been recruited by the CIA for a military operation in Laos dubbed the Secret War, and then fled persecution when the communist government retaliated against them -- first to refugee camps in neighboring countries like Thailand and subsequently to the US. A story map of Hmong refugee migration describes the history of the 18 Hmong clans, and the Minnesota Historical society has a detailed timeline of their exodus. According to the 2010 US census, 260,000 Hmong now live in the US and 60,000 of them live in Minnesota near the Twin Cities.

Hmong mgiration - large

When she was young, Lee's father took her to the gym and built a make-shift beam out of lumber scrap so that she could practice in her backyard. Like the majority of Hmong families, they live modestly. (Nearly 60% of Hmong Americans are low-income and more than a quarter meet the definition of poverty.)  Her community has rallied around her rising star for years, raising money for the training, equipment, and travel required for competitive gymnastics and encouraging her to do it for herself, her family, and their heritage. She has become well known and well loved, an inspiration for many of the younger athletes who have grown up watching her compete on TV and become the first Hmong American athlete to go to the Olympics.

Her Olympic scores are summarized on NBC's Olympic website and sports media coverage will comb over her other record-breaking feats. (More sports spoilers described therein, so I'll let you read them yourself!)


July 29, 2021 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

DACA Recipient Allowed to go to the Olympics


ImmigrationProf has some immigration news.  Sports Illustrated reports that Luis Grijalva, who finished second in the men's 5,000-meter final at the NCAA track and field championships and did well enough to realize a dream of his and qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.  He hoped to competing for home country of Guatemala.   And he will after ironing out some immigration issues.

Grijalva, a student at Northern Arizona University, came to the U.S. from Guatemala when he was just 1 year old, and has lived here ever since. He's a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipient.  As a DACA recipient, Grijalva needed a special permit to leave the country and return.  He got it on Monday.  

After receiving his advanced reentry document, he's going to be allowed to leave the country in pursuit of his dreams, his agent announced.


July 27, 2021 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

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