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Immigrant and Latino Groups Call on Major League Baseball to Move All-Star Game from Arizona

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Letter to MLB Commissioner Bud Selig Criticizes New State Immigration Law and Appeals to American Values

Washington, DC – Immigrant and Latino advocacy organizations joined with progressive advocates and bloggers today to call on Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig to move the 2011 All-Star Game from Phoenix, AZ.  In addition, the groups are urging that teams re-locate spring training games from locations within the state. A letter was sent to Selig today making these requests.

The letter is in response to Arizona’s controversial new immigration law which will put a target on every Latino in the state.  The law, SB 1070, requires police to ask for papers from anyone they decide meets an undefined “reasonable suspicion” standard.  A law that makes 30% of Arizona’s into a suspect class is considered repugnant by those who believe that people should be treated equally and judged on behavior rather than skin color or accent. 

The letter reads in part: “As you are well aware, over a quarter of all Major League Baseball players are Latino, and almost 40% of your players are people of color.  In this moment of crisis, these players – and baseball’s millions of Latino and immigrant fans – deserve a loud and clear message that the league finds this law unacceptable. “

Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice and one of the speakers on the conference call about the letter, said the groups had to act.

“Baseball is an important part of American culture.  But our action today is about so much more than Major League Baseball.  It’s about American values and ideals.  It’s about sending a signal that as a country we are better and wiser than what the Arizona law represents,” he said. “Because baseball is our national pastime and brings together people from all walks of life and nationalities to celebrate sport and community, we believe it is important for Bud Selig and Major League Baseball to refrain from hosting the All-Star Game in a state that is a civil rights nightmare.”

Clarissa Martinez, director of Immigration and National Campaigns at the National Council of La Raza and one of the conference speakers, agreed.

“This extreme Arizona law is not only an affront to Latinos, it is a mockery of our nation’s values,” she said.  “In such a situation, pressure from all sectors of society, including professional sports, can make a difference.”

Speaker John Amato, founder and president of the blog CrooksandLiars.com, said Selig will have to respond.

“Remaining silent is a slap in the face to those who love the game of baseball and cherish its rich history of defending rights for all,” he said. “The players of the MLBPA have stood tall, denounced the law and have threatened to take matters into their own hands, will he stand with them?”

Said Doug Gordon, co-founder of MoveTheGame.org and a vice-president at Fenton Communications: “We believe it is time for Major League Baseball to step up to the plate, follow the precedent set by the NFL in the early 1990’s, and move the game. Bud Selig may think he can ignore the fans and his players but we are betting he can’t ignore the All Star Game’s corporate sponsors. They will be our next target.”

“In response to Arizona’s new immigration law, Latinos and our allies are quickly mobilizing as an economic force,” said Roberto Lovato, co-founder of Presente.org, “Already, we have generated over 100,000 signatures on a petition calling on Commissioner Selig to move the 2011 All-Star Game from Phoenix.  We believe that Major League Baseball, Arizona, and others will quickly see that it’s not in their economic interest to pass laws like SB 1070.”

The organizations and advocates signing onto the letter also include the AFL-CIO, Service Employees International Union, People For the American Way, Voto Latino, the Center for Community Change, and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network; and an array of bloggers and representatives from online outlets, including Markos Moulitsas Zúñiga of Daily Kos and Julio Pabon of LatinoSports.com.

A recording of today’s press conference can be found here.

 America’s Voice — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.