Report: Wander Franco’s Return to the U.S. May Be in Jeopardy

The Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco is suspected of having a relationship with a 14-year-old girl and providing her mother a car and hush money in exchange for her approval, and The Athletic reports that he may not be permitted back into the United States. Franco could lose his visa and be banned from entering the U.S. on the basis that he poses a threat to public safety, according to former U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement prosecutor Javad Khazaeli. Following his release from jail Monday in the Dominican Republic, Franco may leave with the provision of a monthly court appearance, as he remains under investigation. If found guilty in his Dominican Republic case, Franco could face a permanent U.S. ban and would need to forfeit his $174 million remaining contract with the Rays. Even a lesser crime conviction involving a minor punishable by more than a year in prison could lead to a permanent U.S. ban, regardless of whether he is fully convicted. Moreover, a legal clearing could still result in a league suspension under the MLB’s domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse policy. Franco possesses a P-1A Athlete visa, which allows him to travel freely between the U.S. and the Dominican Republic to play baseball, but Khazaeli contends that the U.S. government considers the visa an “extraordinary benefit” that necessitates the athlete to prove their warranted admission into the country.