US PRESIDENT Donald Trump's executive order on immigration is now in effect, and it may have stopped just short of impacting Australian NBA player Thon Maker.
The order, which was signed on Friday, suspended entry of refugees to the US for 120 days, blocked entry for 90 days for citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, as well as bar green card holders from those countries from re-entering the United States.
The enactment of the order, which has been labelled as a "Muslim ban", was received negatively across the globe, with the basketball community immediately thinking about the players who may be affected.
For NBA players in the midst of a season, the issue arises when teams fly to Canada to face the Toronto Raptors. If a player is a citizen of one of the banned countries, he would need to obtain a "case-by-case waiver" in order to be able to re-enter the US.
Officials at the Department of Homeland Security stated that, in order to qualify for the waiver, the situation must be "in the national interest".
Maker, who was born in what is now South Sudan, is in a somewhat confusing situation.
Sudan, not South Sudan, is on the list of banned countries but, when Maker was born, his country of birth was considered the former. It was only in 2011 when South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan.
Maker's passport, which is Australian, was observed by foxsports.com.au in 2016, and lists his birth place as Wau, which is now a city in South Sudan. If the State Department considers Wau as part of South Sudan, then the seven-footer isn't expected to be affected, though that has yet to be confirmed.
On Friday evening, just hours after the order was put into place, Maker was able to travel from Canada to the US without incident, though it's not known whether that was because the order was still in its infancy at the time, or whether that's the ongoing policy of the Trump administration.
This scenario would also be the case for Thon's younger brother, Matur, who's currently playing high school basketball in Canada.
Luol Deng, the Los Angeles Lakers forward, was also born in Wau, and holds dual citizenship with the United Kingdom.
Some of Australia's South Sudanese athletes playing college basketball are also likely to be unaffected by the ban. Louisville's Deng Adel was born in Juba, South Sudan, while Mangok Mathiang, also a Louisville Cardinal, is known to have been born in a city that's now a part of the Republic of South Sudan.
One athlete that may be affected by the ban is the University of Kentucky's Wenyen Gabriel, who was born in Khartoum, Sudan. If he were to leave the US, he wouldn't be able to immediately re-enter, unless he obtained a special waiver, which currently has an ambiguous qualification process.
On Saturday, a federal judge blocked a portion of the President's order, ordering that those trapped in airports and transit stations across the US should not be sent back to their home country. The judge stopped short of allowing those people into the US.
The NBA released a statement on Saturday saying: "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."
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