Wander Franco may not be allowed back in the U.S.: report

Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco, who is accused of having a relationship with a 14-year-old girl and giving her mom a car and hush money for her consent, likely won’t be allowed back into the United States, the Athletic is reporting.

MLB insider Ken Rosenthal spoke to Javad Khazaeli, a former prosecutor for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who said the U.S. government may revoke Franco’s visa on the grounds that he may be a threat to public safety.

Franco was released from jail Monday and is free to leave the Dominican Republic with the caveat of a monthly court appearance, as he’s still under investigation.

“Barring a full exoneration in this case, where it comes out that this was all made up, I don’t see him very likely coming back anytime soon, if ever,” Khazaeli told The Athletic. “The likelihood he would come into the U.S., even if he had a valid visa that wasn’t revoked, is minimal.

“To be honest, if I was his immigration attorney, I would tell him not to even try. Then he would open himself up to being detained at the border (by U.S. Customs and Border Protection) and being put into custody here until an administrative adjudication of these claims.”

If Franco were unable to enter the country by Opening Day, the Rays would be forced to place him on the restricted list, barring him from pay. Franco was placed on administrative leave by the Rays in August 2023 after first being alerted to the relationship.

A conviction in his Dominican Republic case would be an aggravated felony under U.S. immigration law, leading to a permanent ban. Therefore, Franco would need to forfeit the remaining $174 million of his 11-year, $182 million contract he signed with Tampa Bay in November 2021.

Franco doesn’t need a full conviction to be permanently barred, either. Franco could still be convicted of a lesser crime, but a “crime of violence” involving a minor punishable by more than a year in prison would still result in a permanent U.S. ban. A legal clearing may still result in a league suspension under the MLB’s domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse policy. This allows Commissioner Rob Manfred to suspend players even when they are not charged or convicted.

According to a source from The Athletic, Franco has a P-1A Athlete visa that runs for five years and allows him free travel from the Dominican Republic to the U.S. to play baseball. Khazaeli argues, however, that the U.S. government views the visa as an “extraordinary benefit” that places a burden on the athlete to prove a warranted admission into the country. 

Source link

Back to top button