The Golden Venture – 25 Years Later
Hosted by the Issues Committee
NY CLE: 1.5 Credits in Ethics and Professionalism, Transitional/Non-Transitional
Program Chair: Song Kim, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), Co-chair, AABANY Issues Committee
Amanda Bernardo, Attorney, Brandes & Associates LLC, Co-chair, AABANY Immigration Committee
Andrew Rebatta, Assistant Curator, Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA)
Stanley Mark, Senior Staff Attorney, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)
Moderator: Song Kim, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), Co-chair, AABANY Issues Committee
The Golden Venture, a freighter transporting hundreds of undocumented migrants from China, crashed onto the Rockaways and into our collective memory in the early hours of June 6, 1993. As its passengers struggled onto the Queens shoreline, news cameras captured the dramatic scene: people dying as they struggled to swim to shore, helicopters and rescue boats buzzing in the darkness. For many who survived the harrowing journey and made it onto dry land, it wasn’t the American Dream, but detention and deportation that awaited. Only a small fraction would eventually receive asylum and a path to legal status, and some are still stuck in legal limbo to this day.
A formative moment in the Asian American immigrant identity, the plenary session delves into the Golden Venture to explore the shifting legal and political landscape of migration to the United States. Our speakers offer a historical perspective of the incident: a glimpse into the experiences of the passengers and of the Asian American legal community in New York City that rallied to provide legal assistance, as well as the tangible effects and implications of federal policies on immigrant communities then and now.
Although it has been almost 25 years since the Golden Venture incident, the complexities of the immigrant experience that existed then are still very much a part of the fabric of our nation today. Rather than allowing this moment in our history to become a distant memory, we are hopeful that this commemoration will remind us of the context of our place in the current political and cultural climate.