Canadian player blocked by immigration now permitted to attend Little League World Series

Whalley Little League star Dio Gama has received special permission to travel to Williamsport, Pennsylvania to join his team for the Little League World Series. (AP)

Dio Gama, the 13-year-old baseball star from Canada whose path to the Little League World Series was blocked by an immigration issue, received some good news Wednesday.

The federal Immigration Department in Canada has decided to issue Gama a temporary resident permit, according to The Province. That will allow Gama to join his Whalley Little League teammates and participate in the event which begins Thursday in Williamsport, Penn.

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Why was Dio Gama originally blocked from traveling?

According to CBC, Gama’s parents have been seeking refugee status in Canada for more than a decade, but the family’s case remains unresolved after a federal judge ordered a review of their case last month.

Knowing that the possibility of their son participating in the Little League World Series existed, Gama’s family had hoped a resolution would be reached before the national championship game was played last week in Canada. Instead, the family received a letter from its lawyer saying the application was still pending and that Dio was advised to not leave the country until the issue was resolved. Leaving the country meant Dio risked not being allowed back into Canada.

Dio Gama was reportedly “torn into 100 pieces” when the team boarded a plane for Williamsport Sunday without him. The young star has lived in Canada for three years after being born in Las Vegas. His parents are of Mexican descent. Gama’s a contributor on the team too, having hit two triples and driven in four runs in the clinching victory.

What led to the temporary permit being granted?

According to The Province report, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen intervened on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. A $200 application fee for the temporary permit has also been waived.

“I’m really excited,” Dio Gama said of Wednesday’s news. “We’re jumping around.”

“I want to thank everyone for their support.”

Wednesday’s ruling means Whalley’s Little League team will be whole again when the World Series begins, and Dio Gama will be able to continue living a baseball dream.

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