Major League Baseball could be headed for a deportation crisis if the Supreme Court rules with the Justice Department in Maslenjak v. United States, No. 16-309, a case they heard this week. If so, the Bigly Eagues would suffer in kind.
In Maslenjak v. United States, the Justice Department argued it was legal “to revoke the citizenship of Americans who made even trivial misstatements in their naturalization proceedings,” according to an April 2017 New York Times article.
In the case of Maslenjak, she was charged and convicted of having obtained her citizenship illegally. Then, she was deported.
This means that if the Trump administration’s Justice Department has its way, the government could investigate every single naturalized Major League Baseball player and if a player lied on their citizenship application, they could be denaturalized and deported. This might lead some managers in the Bigly Eagues to wish they donated to the Trump campaign.
In 2017, a record 29.8 percent of major leaguers at the start of the season were born outside the country; several of these have become naturalized citizens.
Before you think that baseball players would have had to tell significant lies on their citizenship applications to matter, think again. This was precisely what was at issue this week:
Chief Justice Roberts asked Robert Parker, a Justice Department lawyer, whether not having reported driving five miles over the speed limit – even if one was never caught – could be a cause for denaturalization (and deportation)? Parker said it could.
(The question on the citizenship application is: “Have you EVER committed, assisted in committing or attempted to commit, a crime or offense for which you were NOT arrested?”)
Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked about whether the Justice Department could seek to deport someone if they failed to disclose an embarrassing nickname. Again, Parker said this could be enough to charge someone with illegally obtaining citizenship.
And Justice Kagan was met with the same response about lying about one’s weight.
This is significant because it is widely known that athletes mis-report their height and weight for marketing purposes and nicknames given by cruel little league coaches often stick, to the chagrin of athletes who would like to leave them behind when they make it to the bigs.
(It is unclear if baseball players break the law, including driving five miles over the speed limit. However, one imagines — even if an athlete is not caught – they would disclose their infractions on their citizenship application.)
In practical terms, if Bad Hombre’s Aroldis Chapman, who became a US citizen in April 2016, failed to properly disclose that he once walked out on a check thinking his agent would cover it or that he hit once hit wife and she didn’t call the police, the Trump administration could seek to deport him.
If Dutch National’s Miguel Cabrera did not disclose the nickname “Miggy” or “MC Hammer” on his application, he may find himself on his way back to Venezuela. And despite it being a mark of humility, the application of Klockalamadingdong’s Felix Hernandez could be considered fraudulent if he did not note that most call him “King.”
It is unknown if the following Tulips players have filed for citizenship or if they are in the country on work visas (see below). But, depending on the Supreme Court ruling, Manager Alpren may want to prepare for the deportation of foreign-born:
- Salvador Perez, from Venezuela
- Carlos Martinez, from Domincan Republic
- Jose Quintana, from Colombia
For the record, since his midweek rant, Manager Alpren has walked back his vain hope that some of his poor performing players be deported.
Little did he know that — indications being to the contrary given the tenor and direction of the Court’s questioning — there’s a chance they might be.