With Trump taking aim at immigration this week with his decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), many have been left wondering what the future holds for them and their families. Athletes are not exempt from feeling this pain, despite the fact that they often seem like superheroes to fans. One athlete now speaking out against Trump and his demonizing of immigrants is World Boxing Organization featherweight champion and Mexican-by-way-of-Tuscon Óscar Valdez.
Although the unbeaten Valdez would normally be focusing all his time and energy on his September 22nd ESPN-televised main event bout against fellow unbeaten boxer Genesis Servania, the 26-year-old found himself suddenly turning his attention to a different opponent: Trump.
Valdez was born in Mexico to a US citizen mother, who brought him into the country to Arizona at a young age; while not technically a Dreamer himself, many of Valdez’s closest family and friends are undocumented, which puts them in Trump and ICE’s crosshairs. According to the boxer, routine traffic stops have led to one of his uncles being deported and a near deportation of his grandfather.
“It’s scary. Yes, we heard things, but I never thought it would happen like this. It tears me apart to actually know my grandpa is scared. I had called home, just to check how everyone was, and I’m hearing my grandpa was this close to being deported,” said Valdez to the Los Angeles Times.
The featherweight champion has already spent $5000 of his own money to help get his grandfather proper legal council to keep him in the United States, after an ICE stop for a 15-year-old traffic ticket almost resulted in the elder man’s deportation. Although more court dates loom, including one right after Valdez’s fight with Servania, the family was able to keep the grandfather in the country.
The combination of the DACA news and the deportations that have hit his family hard has changed Valdez’s mind. He had previously chosen not to be as outspoken against Trump as others–like his promoter, Bob Arum, who has been vocally anti-Trump for years–but after recent events, Valdez feels like he has no choice but to step up and use his platform for good.
“I can’t believe these things are happening,” said the boxer. “I can’t believe a guy with that position, the president of the United States — the greatest country in the world — is this racist, making these decisions that I believe 90% of the people in the U.S., and everywhere else, knows he’s wrong on.”