Sports can’t dodge immigration debate

Jordan Latimore, Sports Columnist

Immigration is one of the many topics at the forefront of political discussion in the U.S. Whether it’s the migrating caravan, the debate over birther rights, or the issue of overstayed visas, immigration has proven itself to be a complex dilemma — one that has spilled into the sports arena.
International recruitment is an important component of MLB, given baseball’s global attraction. According to Stuart Anderson of Forbes Magazine, 27 percent of major league players are foreign. Nearly half of the 2016 all-star roster was composed of foreign-born players.
In some cases, foreign players have been the difference between winning and losing seasons. Second baseman José Altuve, from Venezuela, had an MVP performed in the Astros’ 2017 World Series win; Cuban-born Aroldis Chapman’s pitching efforts in the Cubs’ 2016 World Series win indicate that international performance in MLB is very strong.
Major League teams have caught on to the trend — international recruits not only play as well as American born players, but often play even better, which begs the question: to what lengths will teams go to acquire these skilled foreign players?
Apparently, some would break the law. On October 2, 2018, Sports Illustrated reported that the LA Dodgers were implicated in a Department of Justice investigation into possible corruption regarding its international recruitment. The report accuses the Dodgers of allegedly violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits the bribing of foreign officials. The DOJ is primarily looking into the Dodgers’ acquisitions of two former players: Hector Olivera and Pablo Fernandez, who both migrated from Cuba to the U.S to play for the Dodgers.
Any investigation by law enforcement is a serious one, but the U.S Department of Justice’s involvement suggests a very serious issue is afoot. We’re not talking about an inspection by a local detective office; this is a federal investigation by the U.S government, which has a significantly higher legal authority. Whether or not the LA Dodgers really committed these violations is unknown at this point, but eventually will be — it’s only a matter of time.
At its core, immigration is a debate between what’s morally right and what’s lawfully right.
In the case of the Dodgers, some may view their actions morally right. In an effort to provide talented foreigners with the opportunity to be successful, they helped them escape the place where they can’t be. From another perspective, illegally acquiring foreign players is a wrongful act and should not be tolerated under any circumstances.
Regardless of which side of the immigration debate people fall, nobody disagrees that the U.S. must reform its immigration policies. The U.S should have protective border, but we should have a system that is more compatible with the ambitions of the people that want to come in the right way. Innocent people who want to escape war, poverty, government corruptness, or who just want to play baseball, shouldn’t have to wait months or years to get into this country. The fact that professional companies such as the Dodgers have to make illegal transactions just to have them temporarily visit the United States shows that this immigration system still needs work — and hopefully we get it.