USA batsman Fahad Babar, who was playing in the 2016-17 West Indies Cricket Board’s Regional Super50 in Barbados, was forced to return to return home for fear of being banned entry under US President Donald Trump’s recently imposed immigration ban.
The 24-year-old Fahad Babar was representing the ICC Americas squad in the Regional Super50 List A tournament and had played matches against Guyana on January 30 and Jamaica on February 1 before abruptly leaving the team with four group stage matches yet to be played.
Reportedly, Fahad’s immigration lawyer insisted that the Karachi-born batsman return to the USA or face a ‘ban’.
Babar has been living in the United States since the age of 14 and represents the country under ICC’s seven-year residency rule.
Donald Trump’s ban came into effect from January 27. It bars entry into the country for refugees for 120 days and for those from seven countries for 90 days. The seven countries which happen to have a majority-Muslim population are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
While Babar is neither a refugee nor a national from one of the seven countries, his immigration lawyer William McClean opined that the list could be expanded at any time to include Babar’s birth country of Pakistan. Should that happen, Babar could be denied entry into the country because he is not a US citizen.
“He’s (Fahad) from Pakistan which is close to those other countries and might be next on the chopping block,” McClean told ESPNcricinfo.
“If he’s out of the US when they say, ‘okay we’re extending the ban to Pakistani people’, Fahad will be barred. He will not be allowed to come back into the United States even if he’s travelling for cricket and that’s what we’re scared of.”
Fahad Babar’s problem
Fahad Babar was one of six Muslim players representing the ICC Americas squad in Barbados but the only one who could face trouble re-entering the country. Of his other Muslim teammates, Ali Khan and Akeem Dodson are both US citizens while the rest are Canadian residents.
While Babar returned to the United States on Thursday and faced no immigration problems, the thought that he could have been barred weighed heavily on his mind and forced him to return to Chicago where he resides.
He also added that the stress had caused him to underperform as he only managed 24 runs in the match against Guyana and five runs against Jamaica.
Being forced to leave the squad represents an opportunity lost for Babar since the Regional Super50 conducted by the WICB provides players a platform to showcase their talent in the hope of being drafted by a Caribbean Premier League franchise.
Babar’s career has been on a steady rise since he started representing the USA under-19 team in 2011 and made his senior team debut in 2013. He has come to be known as a consistent batsman in the US ranks and was named most valuable player at the 2015 ICC Americas Division One Twenty20 championship.
He is expected to partake in USA’s next international competition -- the ICC WCL Division Three which will be held in Uganda in the month of May.
However, McClean is apprehensive about Fahad Babar leaving the US for the tournament especially since he was flagged for “secondary inspection” when he returned to the country this week.
“The only thing that happened to him, in my opinion, that shouldn’t have happened when he came back to the United States is that they put him in secondary inspection,” McClean said.
“A lot of people have to go through that but there was no reason for him to have to go through secondary inspection and they made him go do that anyway. Secondary inspection is a room with no windows and a locked door.”