Exhausted from a full day of first year classes, I dragged myself to a Chapman Law event, hoping to network and educate myself on immigration law, and discovered a field I never knew existed – Sports Immigration Law. Yes, you read that correctly, Sports Immigration Law – Its a Real Thing.
Now you may be able to anticipate what I am going to say next, but if you’re like me and relatively uneducated on the topic – then prepare for that feeling of, “That makes sense, how come I never thought of that.”
I sat down at a table dressed professionally with white cloth, with a gratis Mexican platter of beans, rice, and enchiladas. I began to quick-eat to satisfy my hunger before the panel began. As I ate the fiesta on my plate an attorney sat down directly to the right of me, who came to support her fellow Immigration Law colleagues. Before I could ask a question she started explaining her practice and the field, using the Los Angeles Clippers as an example, and the story goes as so…
The Canadian Border
On Feb 2nd of 2013, the Los Angeles Clippers traveled on a road trip to Toronto for their game against the Raptors. Before arriving, the Clippers management – aware of Canadian Law- contacted this attorney (who I will keep anonymous for the time being) to make sure the players would have no trouble crossing the border. At the time I thought this was odd, because I often read about American Senior Citizens crossing the border to get pain medication and the issue is not entrance into Canada, but re-entrance back into the United States. So what were the Clippers concerned about? Were some of the players wanted by the Canadian police? Were they international criminals? My guesses weren’t even close. The Clippers were worried about their players’ DUI convictions. Turns out, Canada is extremely harsh on prior DUI convictions, even those that did not occur in Canada.
Routine screening upon entry into Canada includes the question, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?”
If you have been convicted of impaired driving – even if no collision was involved – you may be denied entrance. Even with no other criminal violations. Think carefully. Don’t lie about any convictions, regardless of how ‘trivial’. This is especially true if you’re entering from the U.S. Increased cooperation between Canada and U.S., as part of post-911 security measures, means that the border agent could already have access to criminal records. Lying/forgetting about a conviction could get you barred from entry into Canada for many years. -via TripAdvisor.com
Once again I envy the Canadian way, this is a great issue for a country to put its foot down on. It is relatively uncontroversial and saves lives.
Now the attorney wouldn’t dish exactly which Clippers had prior DUI convictions, but she did mention ten of the players were concerned with the strict law. I can’t say I’m surprised. Ever see those KIA commercials? I imagine Blake Griffin in his Optima flying down the 405 with a jet pack in the back seat. Regardless, as the Clipper’s immigration attorney she researched and successfully found a way for the convicted players to enter Canada.
Blake Griffin’s Iconic Dunk over a KIA. @2011 NBA Dunk Contest
At a panel where I expected to be mildly entertained about lawyers who moved here from another country or who help people immigrate from foreign soil; I had the pleasure of learning about a new aspect of Sports Law – Sports Immigration Law. It reaches to olympic athletes, foreign boxers who fight in Las Vegas, and teams in the little league world series; but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Think NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, MLS, MMA, UFC, WWE, and more. All of these sports play internationally and have international players on their teams; all of whom aforementioned can afford high legal fees. Needless to say, Sports Immigration Law is a lucrative business and one that I will keep an eye on as I continue into the depths of Sports Law.