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Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

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Host: Scott LaMar

Radio Smart Talk: Golden Venture 20 years later

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Jun 3, 2013 1:31 PM
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Radio Smart Talk for Tuesday, June 4:

The United State Congress is reportedly putting the finishing touches on an immigration reform package.  Much of the focus will be on the U.S.' southern border with Mexico where hundreds of thousands of immigrants enter the country illegally each year.  Most are seeking a better life and employment in the United States.

Now, think back 20 years ago when a cargo ship named the Golden Venture ran aground in Queens, New York.  On board were nearly 300 illegal immigrants from China.  Those immigrants wanted to enter the U.S. and sought political asylum in order to escape China's forced sterilization policy put in place to control China's population growth.

Ten drowned trying to swim to shore.  Others were rounded up by the Immigration and Naturalization Service and were held in prisons across the country, including the York County Prison, while applying for asylum.  More than a hundred were deported.

While illegal immigration is often a divisive issue, the passengers on board the Golden Venture found hundreds of people from diverse political and religious backgrounds willing to help in their quest to stay in the U.S.

It took four years before President Bill Clinton relented and released the final 52 passengers.

On Tuesday's Radio Smart Talk, we'll hear the story of the Golden Venture and what became of the immigrants seeking a home in the United States.

Joining us will be attorney Jeff Lobach, who as president of the York County Bar Association at the time, started a pro bono program to represent the detainees and Mary Weaver, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center and was on the staff of former Congressman Todd Platts, who proposed legislation that would provide permanent legal status for 31 men in the York contingent.

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Mary Weaver, Exec. Dir. PA Immigration Resource Center and Jeff Lobach, Former President of the York County Bar Association

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Detainee Artwork

To learn more about the Golden Venture, explore these resources:

The Snakehead: An Epic Tale of the Chinatown Underworld and the American Dream by Patrick Radden Keefe

Golden Venture, a documentary about the U.S. immigration crisis

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  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-06-04 09:01

    Jeff writes:

    I remember passing the York county prison and seeing the Chinese detainees in the “yard.” I felt a great sense of shame that our country would actually treat them so unfairly. It is wonderful to hear about the successful resolution. Thank you to all those who helped them, says volumes about these lawyers…good things :0)

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