When President Trump signed an executive order Friday that temporarily bans refugees of several nations from entering the United States, as well as his overall immigration policies, it’s doubtful he even considered the impact that this ruling might have on the sports world. But now the NBA, which has players from numerous nations including several on the list, have asked for clarification from the President.
Over the weekend they directly appealed to the State Department to get more understanding regarding the suspension of immigration and visas for citizens from designated countries and how it may affect travel for some NBA players.
“We have reached out to the State Department and are in the process of gathering information to understand how this executive order would apply to players in our league who are from one of the impacted countries,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement. “The NBA is a global league and we are proud to attract the very best players from around the world.”
Los Angeles Lakers forward Luol Deng and Milwaukee Bucks rookie Thon Maker were born in Sudan (now South Sudan), and residents from Sudan have been banned entry into the United States for three months, according to the order.
Deng is also a British citizen, and Maker has dual citizenship in Australia and South Sudan. The Bucks played in Toronto against the Raptors on Friday, and Maker had no issue clearing customs using his Australian passport upon his return to the United States. The Bucks and Lakers do not play in Toronto the rest of the season. Maker’s younger brother, Matur, plays prep basketball in Canada and is being recruited by U.S. colleges.
There are several players from Sudan on American college and high school rosters. Center Choi Marial, who is from South Sudan and plays for Cheshire (Conn.) Academy, is one of the top prospects in the class of 2019 and has offers from Florida State, Georgetown, Iowa, St. John’s and West Virginia, according to several recruiting sites.
Kentucky freshman Wenyen Gabriel is also from South Sudan.
Former NBA player Hamed Haddadi is from Iran, which is also on the banned list.
Thousands of people around the nation have been protesting these polices, and there is now litigation pending against it. A Federal judge in New York has issued a stay prohibiting them from being enforced, but that is still under review, and there’s uncertainty regarding whether enforcement will continue.
Thus far, no NBA player or team has faced the dilemma of having players arrested at airports, or being taken away from arenas in handcuffs to deportation hearings and centers. But it is informative that the league does want clarification on these orders, and also another indicator of just how widespread and damaging the Trump policies can be if allowed to stand without exception or exemption.