Donald Trump’s Immigration Ban Leaves Athletes Up In Arms

I don't think too many athletes will be visiting the White House any time soon

Way to go, idiot — Getty Images
Jan 30, 2017 at 3:27 PM ET

On Friday afternoon, President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning US entry by individuals from seven predominantly Muslim nations—Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen—and suspending the refugee program altogether for four months. Over the course of a weekend marked by large-scale, spontaneous protests, the refusal by some border patrol agents to obey a court-ordered stay, and a muddled response (at best) from the administration, athletes are speaking out.

Cabinet members, national security officials, and the Department of Homeland security were not consulted prior to enacting the EO, according to multiple reports, leading to confusion as to whether green card holders, dual citizens, and legal residents would be deported. For NBA players Thon Maker and Luol Deng, both of whom fled an ongoing civil war in the Sudan and hold British passports, it was unclear if they would be able to re-enter the United States.

The NBA contacted the State Department over the weekend seeking clarification and NBPA executive director Michele Roberts vowed that the union would be working on behalf of its constituents. On Saturday, Alexander Lasry, the senior vice president of the Milwaukee Bucks, expressed his unconditional support for Maker.

“I appreciate all the fans concerns and prayers for Thon. And today, a Sudanese refugee who fled oppression and is an incredible young man will make his second NBA start. I’m incredibly excited and proud of him,” Lasry, himself the son of Moroccan immigrants, said in a series of tweets. “He’s a symbol of what makes America great and all immigrants believe about America. But what’s going on in U.S. right now isn’t about Thon. It’s about all the other incredible immigrants and refugees who will make U.S. a better place that can’t come into our country. This is not who we are as a country and doesn’t live up to our ideals.”

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Deng will not face any future travel restrictions, nor will Olympian Mo Farah, who had previously written that the ban “comes from a place of ignorance and prejudice.” Nike, which largely refrains from any overt political statements, also came to Farah’s defense.

Gregg Popovich, who has shown he won’t accept the misinformation and outright lies spouted by Trump and his mouthpieces, fretted about the chaotic implementation.

“As you already know, I have lots of thoughts about what we’ve done to ourselves as a country and what we’ve allowed to happen,” Popovich said on Saturday. “But we’ll see where this goes. Obviously the roll-out today was Keystone Kops-like by any measure with objectivity. Whether you want to say it’s good or bad is irrelevant. But it was Keystone Kops, and that’s scary.”

A slew of NBA players and WNBA players also chimed in, mainly via social media. Kenneth Faried, the Denver Nuggets forward, wrote “Astaghfirullah!” an Arabic expression asking for forgiveness. “They know not what they do!

Astaghfirullah! They know not what they do!

A photo posted by Kenneth Faried (@kennethfaried35) on

WNBA player Breanna Stewart joined the protests at Los Angeles International Airport, one of the nearly 50 that occurred across the U.S. over the weekend.

Former UFC women’s bantamweight champion, Ronda Rousey, who, in the wake of Trump’s executive orders giving the go ahead to the Keystone and Dakota Aceess Pipeline, went to Standing Rock to help pass out supplies and took to Instagram. 

As did Michael Bradley, the current captain of the U.S. Men’s National Team.

Marie Tillman, whose husband, NFL safety Pat Tillman, was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan, wrote, “This is not the country he dreamed of, not what he served for and not what he died for.”

But leave it to the Golden State Warriors head coach, Steve Kerr, whose father was assassinated by terrorists in 1984, to put it as clearly as plainly as possible. “It’s a horrible idea,” Kerr said, echoing statements made by national security experts with whom he might agree on little else politically. “It’s going about it completely opposite. You want to solve terror, you want to solve crime, this is not the way to do it.”

There were those who went against the prevailing winds. Curt Schilling, of course, has been tweeting non-stop, claiming the EO is not a religious ban. (Schilling may not have read the President’s tweets, or was otherwise occupied when Rudy Giuliani said Trump told him he wanted to craft a “Muslim ban” that would dodge any pesky legal or constitutional issues.)

And the former Giants outfielder, Aubrey Huff, seems unaware that many people do not work during the weekend.