Opponents of Arizona’s immigration law demand MLB move 2011 all-star game from Phoenix

Baseball, America’s pastime, has become yet another battleground in the ongoing debate over Arizona’s new immigration law, SB 1070.

Thursday, an estimated 200 immigration rights advocates held a rally in front of Major League Baseball’s headquarters in New York to protest the Arizona immigration law and put pressure on commissioner Bud Selig to move the 2011 All-Star Game out of Phoenix.

This is not the first time baseball has become ensnared in the Arizona immigration debate. SB 1070 opponents have spent the last several months protesting at Arizona Diamondbacks’ games across the country to voice their opposition to Arizona’s immigration policy.

According to Laura Ignacio, spokeswoman at Presente.org, a Latino rights advocacy organization, the effort to protest at baseball events and get the 2011 All-Star Game moved started in May, shortly after SB 1070 was passed.

Norman Eng, spokesman for the New York Immigration Coalition told The Daily Caller that their initiative is multifaceted. “It is both a symbolic and practical effort,” he said. “We want to move the game because the Arizona law is discriminatory and a threat to the immigrant community.”

Eng said that the movement to push the game out of Arizona has gained the support of a number of political leaders, some of whom came out to Thursday’s rally, including New York Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel, New York Democratic Congressman Jose Serrano, New York City Democratic Comptroller John Liu, New York State Democratic assemblyman Peter Rivera, and several City Council members.

Rangel’s spokesman, Elbert Garcia, told The Daily Caller, “He is very much against the Arizona law and showed his opposition at the rally today.”

Serrano has been the most enthusiastic Phoenix All Star Game opponent. On May 18, Serrano introduced HR 1370, which sports the not-so-pithy title: “Finding that holding the 2011 Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Arizona is at odds with Major League Baseball’s efforts to promote diversity and tolerance, and urging Major League Baseball to find a more suitable location for the Game.”

The resolution is pending review in the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Though it may seem trivial, Arizona All-Star Game opponents are taking the issue seriously. They have political support, a coordinated press campaign, national protest rallies, and a coalition website—with ties to Moveon.org—Movethegame.org.

Ignacio pointed out that this type of protest tactic has worked in the past. In 1990, the NFL moved the Super Bowl out of Arizona when the state failed to recognize Martin Luther King Day. It was not until 1996, several years after the state approved the holiday, that the NFL allowed the big game to be held in the state.

“This is a legitimate concern,” Ignacio said. “One third of players are Latino so the fact that they or their families could be stopped during the game is very disturbing. Not to mention Phoenix stands to gain $60 million from hosting the game….We should not be rewarding them.”