Perhaps the only thing more unusual than being a Mexican in Lithuania is being a Mexican hockey player in Lithuania.
So the general astonishment that has greeted Hector Majul since his arrival in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital, in late November does not surprise him.
At 24, he is a forward for the Hockey Punks, one of four teams in the country’s largely unknown professional league. That move was another cheap nhl jerseys china
unforeseen step on an unconventional hockey path, which shifted when Majul was deported to Mexico during his college career in the United States.
“He is an impressive skater,” said Boris Dorozhenko, Majul’s childhood coach and mentor. “The only problem for him was always his Mexican citizenship.”
Like a growing number of international athletes who want to pursue careers in the United States, Majul found that his immigration status — and what some view as suddenly stringent enforcement of technicalities — had become a major impediment.
In a country that has long tried to attract athletes and artists with special talents, what once appeared to be a fairly clear path to at least semi-permanent residency has become a far more arduous road. The possibility of deportation can arise with just one unsatisfactory answer to an immigration official, whether spoken or written on a form.
In Majul’s case, an incorrect response a year and a half ago led to a dizzying journey back to Mexico, then on to Switzerland and now to Lithuania, with no promise of a return to the United States in the near future.
Dorozhenko, who played hockey in the former Soviet Union, discovered a 6-year-old Majul in Mexico City after becoming a coach with the Mexican national program in the early 1990s.
Dorozhenko eventually landed a hockey job in Arizona, and Majul, 14 at the time, followed him. Because he was attending high school, Majul entered the United States with a student visa, then became a fixture at hockey clinics in the area, alongside a local standout named Auston Matthews. Drafted first over all by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2016, Matthews is now among the N.H.L.’s brightest stars.