Golden Venture

The Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center (PIRC) and York College have joined together for an evening of retrospection on the 20th anniversary of the arrival of the Golden Venture. The Golden Venture ran aground off Rockaway Beach in New York on June 6, 1993. Fleeing persecution from the Chinese government for their political expression and from the harsh implementation of China’s one child policy, the passengers of the Golden Venture were seeking freedom and asylum. What they found instead was indefinite detention.

On April 18, 6 to 7:30pm, PIRC, in partnership with York College, will screen two short videos: “The Plight of Chinese Refugees in America,” a video that opens with footage of Congressional testimony by female Golden Venture refugees describing the persecution they fled in China. The video speaks to the human rights, legal, and immigration issues debated in the 1990s, sharing interview segments with critical advocates of the Golden Venture passengers.  The 18 minute video will be followed by a 10 minute video “America Tonight: Coming to America” that shares the story of Alan, one of the Golden Venture passengers, from detention through his emotional release. This video will be followed by a discussion with community panelists – Jeff Lobach, Esquire, Joan M. Maruskin, Professor Zehao Zhou, and Cindy Lobach – who actively advocated for the members of the Golden Venture. The video screenings are in Room 218 in the Humanities Building at York College. This event is open to the public, but seating is limited.

This same evening in the Special Collections Room of Schmidt Library, York College, the Art of the Golden Venture will be on display. With simple supplies, the detained refugees created intricate art using an ancient method of Chinese Paper Folding. During their more than 44 months in detention, the refugees created over 10,000 pieces of art. The art in this exhibit is donated from private collections within York County and is open to the public 5 to 6pm and 7:30 to 8:30pm on April 18. Members of the community are encouraged to visit the art exhibit before or after the video screening.

Just as members of the York community galvanized twenty years ago to advocate for the release from detention of the Golden Venture refugees, the practice of detaining asylum seekers who pose no threat to the community is still being questioned.  And, the imperative to ensure access to justice for detained immigrants is still as relevant today as it was 20 years ago; approximately 84% of detained immigrants appear before an immigration judge without legal representation. PIRC’s programs and services support the mission of providing access to justice for these vulnerable immigrants.

Art of the Golden Venture Exhibit Hours:
In addition to the April 18th exhibit hours, the Art of the Golden Venture will be on display and open to the public in the Special Collections Room at Schmidt Library, York College, April 15 to April 27, Monday through Friday 10am to 12pm and 2pm to 4pm. Please contact Karen Rice-Young at 717.815.1439 to schedule an appointment to view the exhibit at other times.