The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Marjorie Valbrun,202-463-8602 x305,

On Immigration the NBA Has More Courage than the GOP

Phoenix Suns, Charles Barkley Speak Up While McCain and Kyl Stand Down


controversial new immigration law has sparked unprecedented criticism
and activism from leaders in the National Basketball Association,
especially in Arizona. As an important social institution in American
life, they have decided to stand up for American values and speak up
against intolerance. This stands in sharp contrast to most Republican
policymakers, especially in Arizona. As an important institution in
American political life, Arizona's GOP has decided to stand up for a
law that puts a target on every Latino in Arizona, and speak up only
for a riled up base.

stunning that the NBA is showing more courage and leadership on
immigration policy than the GOP," said Frank Sharry, Executive Director
of America's Voice. "The NBA should be proud of themselves. Surely,
their brand will be enhanced by their courage. The GOP should be
ashamed of themselves. Surely, the degraded brand they already have
with Latinos will be further tarnished by their pandering."

Here is what the NBA is doing and saying:

  • Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver, with support from his players, NBA Commissioner David Stern and the NBA Players Union, decided
    to have the team wear "Los Suns" uniforms last Wednesday to protest
    Arizona's new immigration law. Sarver made a compelling argument
    against the law, saying, "However intended, the result of passing this
    law is that our basic principles of equal rights and protection under
    the law are being called into question, and Arizona's already
    struggling economy will suffer even further setbacks at a time when the
    state can ill-afford them."
  • Charles Barkley, a former Suns player, and an Arizona resident and NBA commentator, got into the act, stating,
    "The governor, the interim governor. I might add JD Hayworth and John
    McCain. They're the ones screwing this thing up. I have to really
    take my hat off to Robert Sarver and his Suns for taking a stand.
    Living in Arizona for a long time, the Hispanic community are like the
    fabric of the cloth."

Here is what leaders of the Arizona Republican Party are doing and saying:

  • Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said,
    "The state of Arizona is acting and doing what it feels it needs to do
    in light of the fact that the federal government is not fulfilling its
    fundamental responsibility - to secure our borders." He also said the
    law would protect "people whose homes and property are being violated,
    drivers of cars with illegals in them that are intentionally causing
    accidents on the freeways."
  • Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) said:
    "To the extent that the state wants to step up and deal with the
    challenge, we've said that's a positive step." Meanwhile in
    Washington, Kyl went so far as to threaten a Republican filibuster
    if Democrats tried to move comprehensive immigration reform - an
    approach he championed in 2007 when President Bush tapped him to lead
    the effort in the U.S. Senate.
  • Governor
    Jan Brewer, who signed the bill into law, rejected "this idea that
    everyone is going get arrested and that people should be afraid to come
    to Arizona. I think there's been a lot of hype." The same Arizona
    Republic article
    noted that her approval ratings and chances of winning a tough
    Republican primary had both gone up as a result of her tough talk and
    controversial decision.

Meanwhile, Senators Kyl, McCain and most of their colleagues have
retreated behind the vacuous mantra of "border security first" - the de
facto and failed U.S. strategy in dealing with illegal immigration for
the past 17 years. What makes this so hypocritical is that both know
that the only way to truly secure the border is to enact comprehensive
reform that combines border enforcement, a crackdown on illegal hiring,
a requirement that immigrants in the U.S. illegally register and work
towards citizenship, and reforms of our legal immigration system going

for the Republicans' long-term political prospects, the embrace of the
Arizona law will have tangible electoral consequences. New polling
released by Research 2000/Daily Kos shows that, "Latino support for GOP
candidates has evaporated. McCain received 74% of Latino vote in 2004,
40% in 2008. In this latest poll, he gets only 10 percent of Latinos."

Sharry: "The embrace of the Arizona law and the failure of the
Republicans to step up for real reform will not be judged kindly by
future historians or future voters. Just as Proposition 187 doomed the
Republican Party in the eyes of many California Latinos, SB1070 will do
the same among Arizona Latinos. And while the vast majority of all
Americans are concerned about illegal immigration and want something
done about it, the "something" that enjoys the broadest support is comprehensive immigration reform."

America's Voice -- Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform. The mission of America's Voice is to realize the promise of workable and humane comprehensive immigration reform. Our goal is to build the public support and create the political momentum for reforms that will transform a dysfunctional immigration system that does not work into a regulatory system that does.