The Bucks made history, and Giannis Antetokounmpo, the son of Nigerian parents who migrated to Greece, made the American Dream his reality.
Unfortunately, that’s a dream that now hundreds of thousands of immigrant people in the United States feel is unobtainable, and it’s a dream that over 13 million undocumented people in the US know only exists in their sleep.
While Giannis was born in Greece, because of his parents’ Nigerian background, he was denied Greek citizenship while he was growing up. This prevented him from getting health care, civil service jobs, and more. So he sold watches and knick knacks on the streets of Greece, sharing only a pair of basketball shoes between his brother and himself. He was only given Greek citizenship in 2013 to allow him to travel into New York for the NBA draft.
Now he’s reached the pinnacle of his sport, and he’s an inspiration to us all.
Last year, during Milwaukee and Kenosha uprisings over the murder of George Floyd and the shooting of Jacob Blake, the Bucks team and Giannis took to the front lines to protest the inequalities our Black brothers and sisters are facing daily. With that keen sense of justice, Giannis has always been vocal about the inaccessibility to a dignified life he faced in Greece, a country that refused to see him as a human being.
Here in the United States, undocumented immigrants know that feeling all too well.
Five days ago, a judge in Texas deemed DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)
unconstitutional, but DACA does not confer a legal status, per se—only Congress can establish forms of legal status under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
But the judge’s decision is gumming things up for hundreds of thousands of undocumented DACA elligble people in the United States. The most up to date information about DACA says that new applications are no longer being accepted, and only those who are in a renewal process will be approved.
According to Andrew Lim, director of quantitative research at the New American Economy, together every year DACA-mented people earn more than $23.4 billion dollars. If the program were to abruptly end and they were all deported, the United States would lose $280 billion. So on top of being immoral, that’s foolish. With renewal applications costing $425 a person, and over 703,890 people that renew every two years, that gives the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) a whopping $300 million.
Where does that money go? The concentration camps we see at the border? Building border security? Where is the accountability?
Here in Wisconsin, Republicans in the Legislature are displaying their hypocrisy, saluting the Bucks’ victory while stoking anti-immigrant and anti-Black sentiment. They also just passed a raft of anti-voter bills, which the Bucks organization forcefully opposed.
They ought to take a good look at themselves in the mirror.
And then they must come to terms with what it means to truly embrace a Black Greek-Nigerian immigrant, who just won us a championship.