05/11/2010 03:28 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Taking a Stand On Major League Baseball...And on Raúl Grijalva

Leadership is nothing new for Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and a booming voice on behalf of working families on every issue that comes before Congress. He helped lead the fight against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, helped lead the fight against Wall Street predators and helped lead the fight for equitable health care.

He was also the first member of Congress -- and, significantly, the only member from Arizona -- to stand up and take a principled and passionate stand against SB 1070, the foundations of an apartheid police state. He first called on Arizona's governor to veto the patently unconstitutional anti-immigrant bill. After she enthusiastically embraced it, he sent a letter to President Obama urging him to exercise his "authority to limit [federal] cooperation with Arizona officials in their enforcement of SB 1070." Finally on April 29, he released the following statement:

The governor and legislature are blind to what this bill will really do to citizens, law enforcement and the state economy. Tourists will not come to a state with discriminatory policies on the books. Businesses will not move here. Hispanic workers and taxpayers will leave. If state lawmakers don't realize or don't care how detrimental this will be, we need to make them understand somehow. We are calling on organizations not to schedule conventions or conferences in the state until it reverses this decision. This is a specifically targeted call for action, not a blanket rejection of the state economy. Conventions are a large source of visitors and revenue, and targeting them is the most effective way to make this point before it's too late. Just as professional athletes refused to recognize Arizona until it recognized Martin Luther King Jr., we are calling on businesses and organizations not to bring their conventions to Arizona until it recognizes civil rights and the meaning of due process. We don't want to sustain this effort any longer than necessary. It's about sending a message."

The response has been a barrage of death threats from right-wing extremists, both to the Congressman and to his staff. It became so bad that he was forced to temporarily close down his constituents services offices in Tucson and Yuma. (One man who threatened "to blow everyone's head off," has been arrested. Watch Rep. Grijalva with Keith Olberman on Countdown:

Blue America was, in great part, moved by Rep Grijalva's courageous stand to join with a broad coalition of groups, assembled by our own John Amato to send the following letter to Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig:

Dear Commissioner Selig,

As you know, the Governor of Arizona recently signed a controversial new law that forces police to ask for the papers of any person who looks "reasonably suspicious" in the course of enforcing any law or city ordinance. The new law, SB 1070, has come under nationwide criticism for the threat it poses to the civil rights of Hispanics living in or visiting the state.

We are writing you today to ask that you denounce the new state law, cancel the 2011 Major League Baseball's All-Star Game in Phoenix, and to pressure teams to relocate all Arizona winter and spring training games while this state law is in effect.

Under Arizona's new law, any fan of Hispanic descent visiting Phoenix for the All-Star Game or a training game will be subject to unequal treatment, fines, and possibly jail time if they cannot prove their legal status on the spot. As 15-year Tucson police officer Martin Escobar said when he filed a lawsuit to stop the new Arizona law, there are no "race-neutral criteria or basis to suspect or identify who is lawfully in the United States."

Already, the Major League Baseball Players Association has publicly denounced this unjust law, the government of Mexico has even issued travel warnings for those visiting the state, heads of state and foreign ministers from 12 South American nations have warned of potential violence towards minorities and America's leading civil rights organizations have condemned it.

Major League Baseball has a strong history of supporting minorities and civil rights in America, which began when Jackie Robinson became the first African-American baseball player in 1947. As you are well aware, over a quarter of all Major League Baseball players are Latino, and almost 40% of your players are people of color. These players-- and baseball's millions of Hispanic and immigrant fans-- deserve leaders in this moment of crisis with a loud and clear message that this law is not acceptable to the League.

We strongly urge you to relocate the 2011 All-Star Game from Phoenix and to pressure teams to pull all winter and spring training games from Arizona while this un-American law is in effect. We hope that Major League Baseball will once again prove to be an example of strength and courage to those who work so hard to be a part of this country we all love. We look forward to your response.

Sincerely Yours,
John Amato, Founder & President,
Clarissa Martinez, Director, Immigration & National Campaigns, National Council of La Raza (NCLR)
Roberto Lovato, Co-Founder,
Doug Gordon, Co-Founder,, Vice President, Fenton Communications
Frank Sharry, Founder and Executive Director, America's Voice
Richard Trumka, President, AFL-CIO
Eliseo Medina, International Executive Vice President, Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
Markos Moulitsas Zúñiga, Founder and Publisher, Daily Kos
Julio Pabon, Publisher,
Pablo Alvarado, Executive Director, National Day Laborer Organizing Network
Joshua Hoyt, Executive Director, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
Chung-Wha Hong, Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition
Michael Keegan, President, People For the American Way
Howie Klein, Founder and Treasurer, Blue America PAC
Digby, Founder and Publisher, Hullaballoo
Rick Jacobs, Founder and Chair, Courage Campaign
Inez Gonzalez, Executive Vice President, National Hispanic Media Coalition
Jennifer Allen, Executive Director, Border Action Network
The Rev. David L. Ostendorf, Founder & Executive Director, Center for New Community
Hector Sanchez, Director of Policy and Research, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement
Josh Norek, Deputy Director, Voto Latino
Jehmu Greene, President, Women's Media Center
Jorge Mursuli, President and CEO, Democracia USA

Please help us get Raúl's back by donating one dollar-- for ONE AMERICA-- to his re-election campaign at One America. (If you want to donate $1,001, that's fine too.)