Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

Remembering the ‘Golden Venture’

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"Twenty years ago this morning, a ship called the Golden Venture ran aground in Queens. Inside its hold—a cramped, hot, windowless space that was about the size of a two-car garage—the vessel carried nearly three hundred undocumented immigrants from China. They came, mostly, from a series of villages in Fujian Province. Some of them might be called refugees, as they were fleeing political or religious persecution, or the occasional horrors of China’s one-child policy. But many, and perhaps most, would more accurately be described as economic migrants; they knew that in America there were dishes that needed washing, food that needed delivering, clothes that needed pressing. In a menial job on the margins of the U.S. economy, they could earn in a year what it might take a decade to make back home, and they were willing to risk their lives to get here.

The voyage was a Conradian nightmare, from Bangkok to Mombasa, Kenya, and then down around the Cape of Good