Arizona baseball team faces high heat over immigration law

Major League Baseball's Arizona Diamondbacks will be faced with protests at visiting stadiums across the country due to the passage of a controversial new immigration law passed there.

The Arizona Republic reported Thursday that sponsors of the protest believe that the team's owner supports "Republican politics." Arizona Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed the bill last week.

The bill, which requires state law enforcement to check the documentation of individuals they suspect are illegal immigrants is causing a stir in Arizona -- where some have called for a boycott of the state -- and also on Capitol Hill.

House Democrats are using the bill to push the Senate to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill. Nearly all Democrats and several Republicans in Congress have voiced worry about the bill. Many other Republicans have said that Arizona has the right to pass its own laws on the issue.

Here is more from the Republic:

Today at Chicago's Wrigley Field and in just about every city the team visits, there is expected to be a protest outside the stadium against Arizona's new immigration-enforcement law, Senate Bill 1070.

 One of the people organizing and encouraging such protests is Tony Herrera, the Arizona representative for a national movement (it has a Facebook page) called "Boycott Arizona 2010."

"This team is an ambassador for Arizona," Herrera told me. "And the owner, Mr. (Ken) Kendrick, is a big supporter of Republican politics. This new law was a Republican bill. Until the law is changed, there should be protests."

The Diamondbacks appear to have been caught off guard by such comments, even though it is well known that Managing General Partner Ken Kendrick and his family are major contributors to the Republican Party.

The team's vice president for communications, Shaun Rachau, told me that the organization doesn't believe that targeting the team is fair. He forwarded me the following statement:

"Although D-backs' Managing General Partner Ken Kendrick has donated to Republican political candidates in the past, the organization has communicated to Boycott Arizona 2010 leader Tony Herrera that Kendrick personally opposes (Senate) Bill 1070. The team also explained that Kendrick is one of nearly 75 owners of the D-backs and none of his, nor do the other owners', personal contributions reflect organizational preferences. The D-backs have never supported (Senate) Bill 1070, nor has the team ever taken a political stance or position on any legislation."

This isn't the only way baseball has come into play when it comes to the Arizona immigration law. Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.) has called on Major League Baseball (MLB) to move its 2011 All-Star game from Phoenix.

"As a fervent baseball fan and a supporter of immigrants’ rights, I cannot abide the thought of a celebration like the All-Star Game being held in Phoenix this year,” Serrano said in a statement. “I will be reaching out to contacts in Major League Baseball in the coming days and urging them in the strongest possible terms to move the All-Star Game to another state."

The prospect of that appears unlikely for now, MLB selects its All-Star sites years in advance.