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Bloggings On Political Asylum

by Jason Dzubow

May 03, 2011

Cuban "Asylum Seeker" to Play for Major League Baseball

Leonys Martin: A uniform this ugly might form the basis for an asylum claim.

It looks like the Texas Rangersí newest teammate will be Cuban defector Leonys Martin, a 23-year old centerfielder who formerly played for the Cuban National Team.  Mr. Martin defected while his team was in Taiwan playing in the FISU World University Championships.  How he made his way to the U.S. is not clear. 

According to the Rangersí website, Mr. Martin is currently training in Arizona.  He will receive a $15 million signing bonus and will likely begin his pro career on a Double-A team, though he is expected to move to the majors by yearís end.  According to the Dallas Morning News, Mr. Martinís immigration status caused a bit of delay when it came time for the Rangers to sign him:

Because of the complications of dealing with a player seeking political asylum, the signing has been held up while the sides await proper approval from the U.S. Department of State.

My guess is that Mr. Martin is not an asylum seeker, but rather (like many Cubans) he is a beneficiary of the Cuban Adjustment Act, a law that basically allows Cubans in the United States to obtain their lawful permanent residency after one year in our country.  Since Mr. Martin has been here for less than one year, the problem with signing him may be because he has not yet adjusted status under the Act. 

Iíve never been a huge fan of the Cuban Adjustment Act.  It seems unfair to me to allow Cubans this humanitarian benefit when we deny the benefit to people who come from more dangerous places (like Haiti, for example).  Although many Cubans face persecution in their homeland, I see no reason why they should not file for asylum like everyone else. 

On the other hand, our country has been greatly enriched by Cubans like Mr. Martin coming to our shores.  Itís just too bad that heís not playing for the Phillies.

Originally posted on the Asylumist:

About The Author

Jason Dzubow's practice focuses on immigration law, asylum, and appellate litigation. Mr. Dzubow is admitted to practice law in the federal and state courts of Washington, DC and Maryland, the United States Courts of Appeals for the Third, Fourth, Eleventh, and DC Circuits, all Immigration Courts in the United States, and the Board of Immigration Appeals. He is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the Capital Area Immigrant Rights (CAIR) Coalition. In June 2009, CAIR Coalition honored Mr. Dzubow for his Outstanding Commitment to Defending the Rights and Dignity of Detained Immigrants.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.