Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Yankee Masahiro Tanaka's Visa Processing Facilitated by U.S. Senator

Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka has been in the limelight of late.  The star right-hander was just recently signed by the New York Yankees for a mammoth seven-year, $155 million contract.  At only 25 years old, he is already expected to be one of the best pitchers in the game of baseball.

The Yankees filed a petition for Tanaka's P-1 with the USCIS Vermont Service Center, and wanted faster-than-normal approval of his case so that the pitcher could make it to Spring Training on time. One interesting tidbit relating to his P-1 processing appears in an article from the NY Daily News.
[The Yankees] called New York Senator Chuck Schumer to see if Sen. Schumer could help make sure the paperwork was done properly.

"My office works tirelessly to help constituents every single day, but it's not often you get a call from a constituent like the New York Yankees," Schumer said. "You see, the Yankees called me a couple of days ago to say they were worried about Masahiro Tanaka getting to spring training on time due to the length of time it can take for foreign players to get a visa.

"Foreign baseball players apply for something called a P-visa and the whole process can take up to a month; but with pitchers and catchers reporting on February 14th, it was very possible he wasn't going to make it. So I made sure we had someone go to the mailroom at USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services), pull his application and get it processed quickly - something I have done in the past for the Mets as well, when they had a similar issue with Jose Reyes."

While they can always pass special legislation granting particular aliens some immigration benefit, members of Congress cannot require that the USCIS or Department of State approve a particular applicant's case.  They can, however, inveigle these administrative agencies to expedite certain cases that are under process.

For the normal person, expedites are typically only considered for humanitarian or pressing medical reasons.  Apparently, expedites can also be done to assist a professional baseball player make it to spring training on time.

One wonders if such privileged treatment of celebrities calls into question the Constitution's 5th amendment guarantee of due process for all under federal law.

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