Friday, October 7, 2011

Another Case of Assumed Identity in Major League Baseball

Major League Baseball has acquired a reputation for having foreign players with questionable identity documents. We previously reported on the case of Miguel Tejada, who has been able to avoid immigration consequences despite some questions regarding his stated age. The recent case of Juan Carlos Oviedo, also known as Leo Nunez, presents another interesting example.

Juan Carlos Oviedo, also known as Leo Nunez, played Major League Baseball in the United States for 10 years, before returning to his country of citizenship, Dominican Republic, and answering to charges against him under his actual name. Nunez/Oviedo has been placed on MLB's restricted list.

An writer presents the issue in the following way:

Juan Carlos Oviedo, also known as Leo Nunez, would've made nearly $6 million next season. Would you fake your name and age for that kind of money?. . . if he's able to resolve his legal issues in the Dominican Republic, I'm not convinced he should face a harsh punishment from MLB.

What is missing is the very real prospect that Oviedo may be barred from returning to the United States altogether. While the exact details are murky, the allegation is that he came to the United States with falsified documents. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act § 212(a)(6)(C)(i), "[a]ny alien who, by fraud or willfully misrepresenting a material fact, seeks to procure (or has sought to procure or has procured) a visa, other documentation, or admission into the United States or other benefit provided under this Act" is inadmissible. An immigration officer might well find Oviedo's actual name and age to have been "material facts" within the context of his prior admission to the United States. If barred, he might be able to avail of a fraud waiver under INA § 212(i), which requires proof of extreme hardship to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or parent.

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