Thursday, June 6, 2013

Golden Venture, 20 Years Later

Local coverage of the twentieth anniversary of the Golden Venture grounding shows that the story still resonates.   Newsday (subscription required!) has run a couple of stories and the York (PA) Daily Record also published a number of retrospectives.  Patrick Keefe, author of the book about Sister Ping and the Golden Venture, Snakehead, blogs in the New Yorker.

Photojournalist Katja Heinemann has done a particularly excellent job marking the date with a photo essay and also a Storify page that will take you to all of the Golden Venture stories mentioned above and more.

June 7 update: StoryCorp, the superb oral history project that also airs on NPR, did a conversation between a former York prison detainee and  the local York man who was his translator.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Approaching the Golden Venture 20th Anniversary

June 6 will mark the 20th anniversary of the grounding of the Golden Venture.  I've been in touch with supporters of the Golden Venture former detainees over the past several months, in anticipation of the upcoming landmark date.   Although there has been some talk about a commemorative event or an organized effort at political lobbying on behalf of the former detainees who still do not have legal status, as of today I don't know if anything has really been planned.

According to Bev Church, there are still 20 men from the ship who were released from federal detention in the York County Jail in 1997 who have not been able to obtain legal status.   Bev is still active on their behalf: her main focus has been to stay in touch with members of Congress about the issue, and to make sure that the "private bill" that would award status to the 20 is reintroduced in each Congressional session. 

Bev is tireless in her work, and is now talking about the hope of getting support from Marco Rubio.

It's gratifying that this anniversary comes at a time when America seems to be coming to its senses on the immigration issue.   There's now a decent chance that comprehensive immigration reform can make it through Congress (thanks to the Latino vote and the scare it's giving to the Republican Party).

I've been hearing from the press.   At least one major New York daily is working on a story.   The World Journal visited me and my wife Zhihong up here in Yonkers, and just ran a nice story:   Zhihong was my translator when we made the documentary "Golden Venture" in 2006!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Golden Vision to Reunite For June 9 Vigil

On Sunday, June 9 at 4 p.m.,  across from the York County Prison,  the grassroots inter-faith group, The People of the Golden Vision, will once again gather to remember the struggle for freedom and justice.  The vigil is open to everyone.   There will be a recreation of the vigils held each Sunday.  Facilitators of the service include attorney Jeff Lobach, then President of the York County Bar Assoc., who will give a brief history of the Golden Venture passengers;  Joan Maruskin, United Methodist minister, who will lead the vigil, Byron Borger, Hearts and Minds Bookstore owner, who will preach; Mary Weaver, Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center Executive Director, who will give an update on the asylum seekers, and Rod Merrill, Golden Venture troubadour, who wrote a new song every week for 3.5 years to tell the plight of the asylum seekers. 
The public is invited to join the People for the Golden Vision for the 20th anniversary vigil.  For more information, please contact Joan M. Maruskin at or 202 203-0676

Monday, April 1, 2013

Golden Venture: At Your Local (Chinatown) Pay Phone

I was happy to be a part of the New Museum's exhibit, Recalling 1993.  They called me and asked me if I could record a one minute recollection about the Golden Venture.   They put the soundbyte into an audio databank -- and anyone who calls 1-855-FOR-1993 from a pay phone in the  Chinatown area gets to hear my recording!
Had no idea there were any payphone left.   Very cool.