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Jason Dzubow on Political Asylum

Cuban "Asylum Seeker" to Play for Major League Baseball

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

It looks like the Texas Rangers' 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 Rangers' 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 year's end.  According to the Dallas Morning News, Mr. Martin's 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. 


I've 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.  It's just too bad that he's not playing for the Phillies.


Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com.

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