The NFL is considering a proposal to open its own immigration services to help immigrants who are seeking to become Americans.
The move would come amid growing concerns among some lawmakers that the league has been slow to help the thousands of immigrants who have applied to become U.S. citizens, and could help keep the league from being seen as an outlier in its treatment of immigrants.
The NFL has been accused of ignoring the plight of immigrants as they try to become citizens since the NFL’s first owner, Stan Kroenke, bought the Denver Broncos in 1976, and continued to support the team through the 1980s.
But NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, a native of Ireland, has been pushing for a more welcoming approach to immigrants.
He has said that while he believes in equality for all, he will not tolerate discrimination based on nationality, race, religion, gender or sexual orientation, and has repeatedly sought to increase the league’s efforts to assist immigrants in becoming citizens.
Goodell has also called for the NFL to expand its partnership with local police departments to provide better legal assistance to immigrants, and he recently proposed that the NFL and other professional sports leagues offer financial incentives for the release of detained undocumented immigrants, including in-game tickets.
The NFL and its commissioner have not publicly commented on the proposal.
An NFL spokeswoman, Kristin O’Connor, said the league does not comment on pending litigation.
“We believe it is important to continue to be an advocate for our community as we work to ensure our players, coaches and employees can contribute to the well-being of our countrymen and women,” she said.
As a result, many league owners and executives have publicly backed efforts to make it easier for immigrants to become American citizens.
For example, the league last year adopted a policy that would allow immigrants to apply for citizenship if they can prove they have a high school diploma and pass a criminal background check, and the league recently changed its policies so that if a player has been convicted of domestic violence, they can be granted a green card.
In addition, Goodell said in November that he would introduce legislation that would make it a crime for NFL teams to host illegal immigrants, as well as prohibit them from using the team’s name or logo.
The league said it is considering adding other players who have been arrested for domestic violence as well, but declined to specify which ones.
The owners have also pledged to expand their outreach to undocumented immigrants through partnerships with local law enforcement agencies.
Some immigrants have voiced concern about NFL players using their names or images, which could lead to a lawsuit, but Goodell said last month that NFL owners and players are not required to honor any such requests.