Ian Gordon

Ian Gordon

Copy Editor

When not wrangling copy for the MoJo crew, Ian writes about immigration, sports, and Latin America. His work has appeared in ESPN the Magazine, Wired, and Slate. Got a comment or a tip? Email him: igordon [at] motherjones [dot] com.

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Maryland Dreamers Score Latest Immigrant Victory

| Thu Nov. 8, 2012 4:03 AM PST

With the passage of Tuesday's Question 4 ballot initiative, Maryland became the latest state—and the first by popular vote—to pass a so-called state Dream Act, allowing undocumented college students to pay in-state tuition rates for public college and universities there. Fourteen states* now have such laws on the books:

It might not have been the most controversial initiative on Maryland ballots this year—that'd be Question 6, the same-sex-marriage measure, which also passed—but the Dream Act still generated a heated debate in the Old Line State. The bill originally was approved by the General Assembly and was signed by Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley in 2011, but opponents, led by the group Help Save Maryland, collected well over the nearly 56,000 signatures required to force a referendum on the issue.

Coming just months after President Obama's deferred-action directive, the result was another bit of good news for advocates of immigrants' rights, who in the past couple of years have fought both the Obama administration over its deportation of more than 1 million undocumented immigrants and various statehouses over the bevy of self-deportation-related state immigration laws like Arizona's SB 1070.

Now, with Obama's reelection secured thanks in no small part to the overwhelming support of Latino voters, they will try to hold him to his campaign promise to push through comprehensive immigration reform. If Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's post-election comments were any indication, immigration could follow the fiscal cliff as 2013's biggest legislative battle.

*Note: According to the National Immigration Law Center's Tanya Broder, Minnesota, while not marked on the above map, offers a flat tuition rate to students, regardless of immigration status. Also, Rhode Island's state measure was passed by its higher education board, not the Legislature.

Exposing Major League Baseball's Seamy Side in the Dominican Republic

| Fri Jul. 13, 2012 3:00 AM PDT

Ballplayer: Pelotero
Strand
73 minutes

In the riveting new documentary film Ballplayer: Pelotero, there's an early scene in which four Dominican teens are sitting in a spartan dorm room, shooting the shit about the future they anticipate as professional players in the United States. They joke about how their countrymen play with more flair than Americans and venture that Dominicans are harder workers and more talented than their northern counterparts. Then one of them gets serious. "A lot of us have pulled off tricks so we can sign," he says. "People change their ages and all that. But that's just what you have to do." 

For years, that sentiment—you do what you gotta do—has pervaded baseball in the Dominican Republic, home to 11 percent of major-leaguers, 24 percent of minor-leaguers, and a not-insignificant percentage of the game's recent scandals. Baseball is seen by many young men and their families in the Dominican as a way out; nearly 3.5 million people live in poverty (including some 1 million who subsist on less than $2 a day), and that sense of desperation has helped contribute to steroid abuse and widespread age and identification fraud among would-be players, often with the help of exploitative talent brokers known as buscones.

In the film, directors Ross Finkel, Travor Martin, and Jon Paley zoom in on two players, highly coveted Miguel Ángel Sanó and under-the-radar Jean Carlos Batista, as they train in advance for the big day: July 2, the first day that Dominican 16-year-olds can sign a contract with a big-league club. They go behind the scenes à la Hoop Dreams to illustrate just how shady the recruiting process can get in Major League Baseball's favorite feeding ground.

Mapping the Battle Over Arizona-Style Immigration Laws

| Tue Jun. 26, 2012 3:00 AM PDT

As MoJo's Adam Serwer reported Monday, the Supreme Court voted down three of four provisions of Arizona's controversial immigration law, SB 1070, but allowed one harsh measure to stand: The court upheld (for now)* section 2B, which requires law enforcement officers to determine the immigration status of suspects during lawful stops, detentions, or arrests. Along with Arizona, five other states—Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, and Utah—have similar "show your papers" laws on the books. Meanwhile, from 2010 to 2011, 30 state legislatures rejected bills modeled after Arizona's.

This year, with the uncertainty surrounding the impending court decision and with legislators unwilling to deal with the type of fallout seen in Alabama, only five states introduced such legislation: Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Rhode Island (PDF), and West Virginia. The Missouri, Mississippi, and West Virginia bills failed; Kansas' regular legislative session has ended without action on the bill, and the same outcome appears likely in Rhode Island, whose session is over July 2. (Four of the five states—Rhode Island excluded—had already tried and failed to pass similar bills previously.)

Following Monday's Supreme Court ruling, Nebraska state Sen. Charlie Janssen, sponsor of a 2011 Arizona-style bill, told the Associated Press he was unsure if he'd repropose it moving forward, saying, "I certainly wouldn't bring something back that the US Supreme Court just shot down." But Mississippi Republican state Rep. Becky Currie, cosponsor of the state's HB 488 (PDF), is undaunted. She told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger that the ruling merely would affect how she wrote future anti-immigrant legislation. Currie also told the paper that she expected a future Mississippi immigration bill to have a "self-deportation effect": "As soon as the bill passes, illegal immigrants will leave the state."

Correction: This article initially claimed that the Supreme Court upheld section 2B, which is incorrect. Read Serwer's Tuesday post to see why.

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