The union representing major league baseball players waded into the debate over Arizona's harsh new immigration measure Friday, with Executive Director Michael Weiner calling for the law to be "repealed or modified promptly."
More than a quarter of the players on opening-day rosters were foreign-born and Weiner said the measure "could have a negative impact on hundreds of major league players."
The law, signed by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer last week and set to take effect in midsummer, makes it a state crime to be in Arizona illegally and requires police to check suspects for immigration paperwork. But critics claim it could lead to racial profiling.
Weiner said the law, which is being challenged in court, not only affects players on the Arizona Diamondbacks but those on teams who come to the state to play the Diamondbacks, and those on the 14 other teams that conduct spring training there.
"All of these players, as well as their families, could be adversely affected, even though their presence in the United States is legal," Weiner said in a statement. "Each of them must be ready to prove, at any time, his identity and the legality of his being in Arizona."
Angels pitcher Joe Saunders, the team's union representative, said he spoke by phone Thursday with a union official. "They just wanted to know our stance on the issue," Saunders said. "I said, ‘We're behind you guys 100%.' "
Venezuela-born right fielder Bobby Abreu said complying with the law raises practical issues.
"You're not going to be on the street every time with your passport," he said, "because you're afraid you might lose it."