Luol Deng was born in Wau, Sudan which is now the South Sudan. He has been in the United States since he was 14 and attended high school in New Jersey (Blair Academy). He was a lottery pick who has played for four NBA teams: Bulls, Cavaliers, Heat and Lakers. Deng moved with his family to London and has had dual citizenship since 2006.
Thon Maker was born in Wau, Sudan which became South Sudan in 2011. He is a rookie drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2016 and plays limited minutes but on Saturday night Maker had his first home start of the season at center. Maker moved with his family to Australia in 2002 and has dual citizenship.
On Friday, President Trump via executive order, banned all immigrants from seven Muslim countries from entering the United States. Sudan was one of those countries. Maker was in a game in Toronto on Friday; Deng doesn’t play until Tuesday and has no games scheduled out the country.
At the same time that Maker was playing against the Raptors and scoring 8 points, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection was communicating with airlines the names of passengers with suddenly cancelled visas. Maker’s visa wasn’t one of them.
The NBA issued a statement via Mike Bass, their spokesman.
“We have reached out to the State Department and are in the process of gathering information to understand how this executive order would apply to players in our league who are from one of the impacted countries. The NBA is a global league and we are proud to attract the very best players from around the world.
The immigration ban via executive order is for the next 90 days. So if Maker and Deng want to take a vacation during the All-Star break and leave the country they cannot get back in.
Late Saturday, an emergency order issued by a New York federal judge barred the United States from deporting people from seven Muslim nations. Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.
There has not been much detail on how the ban is going to be implemented and it has already caused chaos. What if the Bucks play the Raptors in the playoffs and Milwaukee travels to Toronto within that 90 day window?
The vice-president of the Milwaukee Bucks, Alexander Lasry, whose father is a Moroccan immigrant and owns the Bucks, wrote on social media, “I appreciate all the fans concerns and prayers for Thon. And today, a Sudanese refugee who fled oppression and is an incredible young man will make his second NBA start. I’m incredibly excited and proud of him. He’s a symbol of what makes America great and all immigrants believe about America. But what’s going on in US right now isn’t about Thon. It’s about all the other immigrants and refugees who will make US a better place that can’t come into our country. This is not who we are as a country and doesn’t live up to our ideals. What Trump says about immigrants and refugees isn’t what I see. I see incredible ppl who come here to create a better life for the families. It’s why my dad’s family came here from Morocco. We must continue to share the stories of incredible immigrants and refugees who make America GREAT.”
Second year guard Rondae Hollis-Jefferson of the Brooklyn Nets had a very succinct message. Hollis-Jefferson is a Muslim. “We try to teach people not to point the finger, blame a whole [group]. You can’t judge a whole group by one’s action at the end of the day. You can’t speak for all Muslims because all Muslims heart aren’t like that. Most of them are pure, really believe in a different way and a different livelihood. This is kind of hard…just being part of that community and a part of that family. I feel like this should be handled differently and I feel like more people should definitely speak up and act on it just because it’s BS at the end of the day.”
Luol Deng was awarded the NBA Sportsmanship Award in 2007, the U.N. Refugee Agency’s Humanitarian of the Year Award in 2008 and the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award in 2014.