Immigrating the “Right Way”: The Saga of “Illegal” Tyson Nash

On the May 21 issue of the Arizona Republic columnist E.J. Montini narrates the travails of Tyson Nash, the current hockey analyst for the Phoenix Coyotes.

Nash is a Canadian citizen who has lived in the U.S. for 15 years but does not have a green card. In other words, Nash is an illegal.

Nash has been trying to immigrate, as Montini calls it, “The Right Way,” but has been frustrated by the official bureaucracy and his status of immigrant remains.

Montini laments Nash’s difficulties. After all, Nash has been a good father to his American-born children, a good (if “not quite legal”–Montini’s words!]) citizen, a steady worker and a good tax payer.

Curiously, this characterization contrasts with the widely-held portrayal of the Latin American illegal as one who abuses public assistance and is an inconsistent worker who pays no taxes.

Montini left out several important points from his encomium. Nash is an illegal who has received princely treatment. Unlike most “not quite legal” (“illegal”) immigrants from Latin America, Nash need not worry that immigration officials will show up at his workplace to arrest him despite his open admission of being an illegal.

He has no reason to fear that a police officer will profile him and stop him for a putative traffic violation in order to check his immigrant status. Nash is immune from local Sheriff Arpaio’s antics. Nash’s offspring will never be dubbed “anchor children.”

Why? Nash is white and such are the advantages of being white.


  1. rosmar

    There is a lot of truth to this, but it is also a bit of an overstatement. Most of the time those who are harassed for being “illegal” are Latinos, but there have been some White people who have been deported, including a few that have lived in the United States almost all their lives. For example:

    Despite that, the attention cases like the one I cited above get shows that they are the exceptions that prove the rule–the press gets much more worked up about a White teenager being deported than about thousands of Latinos being deported.

    • José Cobas Author

      Some White people may be harassed for being illegal, but not for being White. Some White people may have been deported, but race was not a factor in their deportation. That is a key difference.

  2. zinobia

    It is not surprising that White privilege extends to fair skinned immigrants, and protects them from the racial profiling, police brutality, and other forms of overt racism that brown skinned immigrants have to face on a daily basis. This makes it clear that the critical look at immigration is less about immigration and more about population control in the Hispanic community and maintaining a level of White superiority.

  3. Will

    I agree with what this article says. Basically, if you’re white, from a different country and in the U.S. illegally you are more likely to be treated more pleasantly and never suspected of being a potential criminal or terrorist as opposed to POC.

  4. I really appreciate your comment that the white “illegal’s” children will not be called “anchor babies.” The “anchor baby” insult is especially emotional and infuriating to me. It is such a nasty insult, that depends on blatant views of innate white goodness–the term only makes sense if viewed from the white perspective that “Latinos have ‘anchor babies’ in the U.S. to take advantage of whites’ superior morality and unwillingness to separate infants from their parents. Whites’ goodness compels them to suffer abuse from Latinos.” That term and its attendant logic are simultaneously offensive and demonstrably false. Obviously, whites quite willingly deport Latino parents and create practical orphans all the time!

  5. heythars

    Tyson Nash has a work visa issued to him by the US GOVERNMENT. Each and every year he has been here, working as a hockey player or a radio / broadcaster, he has had a work visa allowing him to live and work in the US legally.

    While he is here on his work visa, he has been applying for permanent resident status.

    Part of his job involves him traveling back and forth from the US to Canada multiple times each hockey season. Do you think he’d be allowed to do that if he was illegal???

    The point of the editorial was that it is difficult to deal with the system and do things the right way.

    Don’t make inaccurate judgements about Tyson Nash… He has done everything right, and even though he’s been put through the ringer by the government, still wants to stay here.

    • José Cobas Author

      Hello Heythars,

      The facts that Tyson Nash has a work visa, that he travels to Canada, etc. were not mentioned in Montini’s article. Furthermore, according to the article, “Nash waits to find out if he’ll be deported (along with his wife and three American children).” If Tyson’s status conforms to the law, why would he be concerned about being deported?
      In any event, I apologize for making those erroneous statements.
      As a Cuban exile who arrived in 1962, I experienced my share of frustration with my immigrant status. I was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1969, when the Vietnam war was going full blast and I wasn’t a U.S. citizen (had not even applied for citizenship yet!). That was a pisser.
      But at least I didn’t have to trudge through a river and walk through an inhospitable and dangerous desert. At that time, Cuban exiles were treated very generously for being exiles from a communist country and, in all likelihood, because we were white.
      Such were the advantages of opposing communism and being white.

      • heythars

        It could be that the wrong term was used. Tyson does definitely have a P1 visa, but he has to reapply for it every year to be able to work.

        The current visa he has expires in September. He will need a new one to be able to work the 2010-11 hockey season.

        An added difficulty he has is the ownership of the Phoenix Coyotes is in transition. He doesn’t know if he will have a job in October or not. Most likely he does, but you never know.

        I’m not sure who said deported, if it was him venting his frustration or if it was the reporter simply getting it wrong, as they are prone to do.

        Thanks for your apology. I appreciate it, as his biggest fan and friend. He hasn’t done anything wrong, and is simply frustrated that the system appears to be broken and even though he is doing everything he is supposed to, it just isn’t working for him.

  6. Seattle in Texas

    I felt compelled to comment on this post for reasons of which I won’t go into as they are not relevant here. But there are a couple of things I just basically wanted to add.

    First, through institutionalizing and legally mandating racial profiling, is that the laws allow, and in this case require, the state to legally violate the constitutional rights of “legal” residents/U.S. citizens. I hope that with enough violations of U.S. citizens that a class action lawsuit is eventually brought against the state on behalf of those who constitutional rights have been violated.

    Last week I had watched an interview with Governor Richardson and he made a point that I thought was important–many of the officers are actually against the policy and frustrated with their jobs and the policy (though I’m sure equally as many are fine with the racist practices…). It has got to be frustrating for the officials who are actually against the policy and went into their profession with hopes of serving and protecting, rather than discriminating and harming and even breaking the laws as they perhaps once knew and understood them.

    Another point that I wanted to make here is that I think it’s important that a very robust conception/framework regarding human rights is used in discussions particularly when issues related to undocumented communities. If we just attack this obviously racist policy, etc., the other side is ignored, which is racist and oppressive also. Some states that see themselves as very liberal and human rights oriented are welcoming of these communities…. These states/peoples would speak out loudly against Arizona, but refuse to look at themselves and their own massive exploitation and human rights violations of these communities in their own home areas/states. Beyond paying taxes, etc., through wage slavery and other discriminatory practices (actually through blatant illegal profiling and giving out tickets on a large scale because 1. they get paid almost immediately and 2. because it is difficult if not impossible for the victims to fight against since they basically have no rights and protections–the monies are funneled back up to county/state this way), etc. On the liberal end, private business owners and the state makes a lot of money off of the undocumented working communities, yet these racist and very harmful practices are somehow this is either overlooked and/or invisible. Both sides are bad and harmful. Anybody in this nation who is on this soil, regardless of citizenship status, should be entitled to the rights and protections that U.S. citizens are supposedly entitled to (which clearly in reality not all are given…a different topic). If the government is taking services from them and allowing private owners to exploit them, it is the government and private business owners who should be sanctioned and not the individuals.

    And lastly, is the privilege extended to even fair skinned Canadian “illegals” vs. fair skinned first generation “legals” from other nations where English is not their first language and the U.S. culture is completely foreign or in opposition to their own…. Certainly the commonality between all is that they all have the white privilege, but at least down here in Texas, once the “legal” fair skinned immigrants utter a word they are quickly excluded and discriminated against in various ways. Though true, unless their children/grandchildren marry or have children with people outside the white communities, their future offspring will never suffer the same pains that communities of color, both documented and undocumented–whose roots tie back to before the founding of the U.S., will endure likely for generations to come. But in short, I think there are further privileges and advantages that white English speaking Canadians would have over many immigrating groups….

    • No1KState

      Oh, and even if we accept heythars corrections, aren’t we still left to assume that a basic assumption undergirding the editorial and the discussion surrounding immigration is that Latina/os don’t (want to) immigrate legally? And/or that those who do don’t face the same hurdles?


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