Monday, August 3, 2009

Back to York: A New Call for Action

About two dozen Golden Venture passengers returned to York yesterday, making their presence quietly known at a book event hosted by the York Historical Society. Michael Chen, long the chief spokesman for the passengers, made an emotional plea for support in the former-detainees' quest for permanent legal residence. He was followed at the podium by Lin Man Ying, the detainee who narrowly avoided deportation in 2004.

It's been more than 16 years since the Golden Venture ran aground and 12 years since the final group of detainees (about 50 men) was released from jail on "parole." Advocate Beverly Church has found a way to protect the detainees from deportation -- a "private bill" that has been pending in Congress for years.

The political wheel in Washington has finally turned. The Democrats are now back in power -- just as they were when the ship ran aground in June, 1993. And it is now incumbent on the new Democratic administration to make up for the mistakes made in the early Clinton era. It can be done quietly, with little political downside, but it is the administration's moral duty to grant permanent legal residence to the detainees.

The book event was designed to promote the publication of Patrick Keefe's "The Snakehead" -- Keefe spoke passionately on the Golden Venture issue and read from his excellent book, which generated brisk sales after the event as buyers -- including many of the Golden Venture passengers -- signed up for autographed copies. Byron Borger, host of the event and owner of a York book store, manned the cash register.

Keefe had pointed out during the presentation that even William Slattery, the beefy, gung ho, xenophobic INS official who proudly claimed that he was the moving force behind the detention of the immgirants has come out on the record in favor of getting the Golden Venture passengers their green cards.