The Major League Baseball Players Association—which is after all a labor union whose membership is comprised in large part of guest workers from Spanish-speaking countries—has released a statement expressing concern about Arizona’s new immigration law and leaving open the possibility of “additional steps necessary to protect the rights and interests of our members.” Phoenix is set to host the 2011 All-Star Game; talk of a boycott, or of the MLB changing the location, has begun to circulate, and many Latin ballplayers, American citizens and otherwise, have started to speak out.
Mets catcher Rod Barajas—the American-born son of Mexican parents and a resident of Arizona—spoke at length with the Times‘s David Waldstein over the weekend, expressing succinctly the obvious concerns about racial profiling:
You would like to hope there is no stereotyping going on, but it’s hard to see that there would not be. If they happen to pull someone over who looks like they are of Latin descent, even if they are a U.S. citizen, that is the first question that is going to be asked. But if a blond-haired, blue-eyed Canadian gets pulled over, do you think they are going to ask for their papers? No.
In addition to indignation, there are frightening practical concerns. Half of the MLB holds spring training in Arizona; and the Arizona Rookie League (and Fall League), brings in many younger prospects—many of them teenagers new to the country, and the English language—as this article notes, raising a number of plausible scenarios in which a perfectly legal foreign worker could be not just hassled but jailed.
There’s a whole class of journalist whose job it is to solicit quotes from ballplayers on a daily basis—would that it were so for any other class of Latino worker—and it’s gratifying that so many are speaking out, as their feelings (and the sympathetic feelings of their colleagues, and employers) are surely not unrepresentative.