Given Joe Arpaio’s general lack of decency and genius for performance art, I’m not remotely surprised that Arpaio is going to have one of his chain gangs picking up trash outside next week’s Major League Baseball All-Star Game. Arpaio strikes me as generally beyond shame, and as much as I wish the proposed boycott of the game by an Arizona human rights group that aims to protest Arizona’s draconian immigration policies more generally would materialize, I don’t have much faith that it will. But if not a single player traveling to Arizona for the weekend has the gumption to say something, I will be disappointed.
Ten of the players on the American League All Star roster and seven members of the National League side were born in countries other than the United States. The immigration system works for them, making it possible for them to come to the U.S. and make very large amounts of money. There’s no question that there are abuses in Latin American baseball academies, people who prey on the dreams of families who hope that years of training in a low-paying developmental league will translate into wild success in the States, just as folks prey on people who just want to get to the U.S. period. But if you make it to the United States and into a secure job in the Major Leagues, you’re one of the most visible and one of the most protected immigrants in America. And those 17 players will be in the ballpark long before Joe Arpaio sets up his ghastly spectacle outside of it. It would be tremendous value if one of those 17 spoke up to point out that what folks will see Arpaio doing — and what Arizona is doing as a whole — isn’t just embarrassing, or silly, it’s deeply wrong.