Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Mukasey, Abortion, and the Golden Venture

A surprising and fascinating development: Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey has run into opposition from anti-abortion advocates because of a judicial decision he made in a case involving a Golden Venture passenger.

As a federal judge, Mukasey denied asylum to a Golden Venture passenger who claimed he was fleeing China because of its coercive birth control policies. As the media has reported, the asylum seeker claimed that, in violation of a government mandate, his wife became pregnant with a third child, and that to avoid severe punishment, he put her into hiding and fled the country. He claimed that we would face severe punishment if he were sent back to China.

Mukasey ruled that asylum should not be granted because the case did not fall within the law's definition of a legitimate asylum claim.

Sadly, the asylum applicant's fear that he would face severe punishment in China was very real. In fact, at least one Golden Venture passenger who was sent back to China was forcibly sterilized. Others were fined and severely beaten.

The Mukasey connection to the Golden Venture started surfacing over the weekend, before the Bush's nomination was officially announced.

The first inkling came out in the Times in a Sunday piece, which mentioned Mukasey's abortion decision, without indicating that it involved a Golden Venture passenger. A day before, an anti abortion, Catholic advocacy group, Fidelis, came out with a statement opposing Mukasey, citing his decision in the Chinese coercive birth control case.

Just today, the New York Sun weighed in with an editorial endorsing Mukasey. Apparently the Sun did a bit of reporting and found out that the asylum case involved a Golden Venture case.

Mukasey's Golden Venture connection goes beyond this one case. He was also the judge in the Sister Ping trial -- the proceeding that ended with Mukasey handing Ping a maximum sentence of 35 years.

I wonder how Mukasey's thinking was influenced by what he learned while sitting on the Ping case? He heard all the gory details of that horrible voyage -- the suffering in the hold of ship that the passengers endured for three months.

And I wonder what Mukasey would say now if asked about his decision to send a Golden Venture passenger back to China -- and what his reaction would be if he were told that the same man was forcibly sterilized?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Golden Venture Trailer, Wausau Project

Just posted the Golden Venture trailer on YouTube, after long procrastination. You can see the same trailer below.

Also started a YouTube "community": Open Border Central.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Spanish Language Debate: Political Overkill Obscures Historic Importance

The Spanish language presidential debate snuck up with little advance fanfare, and receded quickly from the headlines. While newspapers and TV dutifully reported that it was "historic" and the first Spanish-language presidential debate, the story was not (at least in the New York Times) front page news. The media struck out here: this debate was truly a milestone, a crucial marker of the nation's demographic and political evolution.

I missed the debate and was annoyed and surprised when I couldn't find a transcript in the paper or anywhere on the web. Reading the coverage, a few things struck me as quite amusing.

Bill Richardson definitely scored with his quip about building a 12-foot "security" fence along the Mexican border -- the obvious consequence will be "A lot of 13 foot ladders."

Dennis Kucinich hit home with his statement that "There are no illegal human beings."

Hillary scored with her direct jibe at Lou Dobbs.

Obama wiffed again, sticking to platitudes and generic references to Martin Luther King. His statement that a president needs to "make sure that all workers are being tended to" is a fabulous Bushism.

And what about that shockingly idiotic decision by Univision (or whoever makes the rules) to forbid Bill Richardson and Chris Dodd to speak in Spanish? And the equally-shocking-idiotic rush by the candidates to make it clear that they did not support Spanish as the "second national language."

While of course the debate was characterized by political wishy washyism, the Democractic consensus evident there puts us on track for some kind of meaningful immigration reform in 2009.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Back to School Special: Primary Source Document Library

I'm pleased to report that I finally took care of something that's been on my to do list for years: posting a library of primary source documents about the Golden Venture on the web, at the Golden Venture movie web site.

The documents provide a fascinating window into policy making in the early days of the Clinton administration, and they trace the origins of a major new get tough approach to immigration that has its roots in those somewhat troubled times.

Clinton had been in office for barely six months when the Golden Venture ran aground. He was already in trouble: gays in the military and Hilary's health care initiative blew up in his face. The economy was coming out of a recession, and there was a virulent wave of anti immigrant sentiment sweeping the nation. Losing California in the upcoming Congressional elections and in the next presidential election was a growing concern.

The documents clearly show that the Clinton officials decided to make an example of the Golden Venture passengers, primarily to deter other undocumented Chinese immigrants from boarding ships to cross the sea.

It's hard to argue with many aspects of that policy. There's no doubt that major multi-national criminal syndicates were involved in the smuggling operations and that the magnitude of the problem -- there were many "Chinese boats" besides the Golden Venture -- was very, very big.

However, it's also clear that a concern for protecting human rights and offering fair treatment to the Golden Venture passengers was not a central priority.