Golden Venture | 2016
Chronicles the ongoing struggles of passengers who were aboard the Golden Venture, an ill-named immigrant smuggling ship, when it ran aground near New York City in 1993. Passengers had paid at least $30,000 to be smuggled to the U.S. from China's Fujian Province, expecting to arrive indebted but unnoticed. But a seemingly golden opportunity quickly evolved into a hellish descent through the cruel whims of U.S. immigration policy. The Golden Venture became a symbol of a growing national concern over illegal immigration, fueled by the first attempt to topple the World Trade Center, also in 1993. Many passengers were deported over a two-year period, while others were detained for up to four years as their cases for asylum languished in court. Meanwhile, the would-be immigrants turned to art to soothe their uncertainties, producing, from prison, an astonishing number of elegant sculptures made of nothing more than magazines, cardboard, and homemade glue. With the unwavering support of two legal advocates, a bill now sits in Congress to grant permanent legal residence to Golden Venture passengers in the U.S. who still face deportation. At a time when detainment without trial is again a flashpoint of public debate, the fate of the Golden Venture passengers is more relevant than ever.