On the immigration beat, which I have covered for nearly a quarter of a century, some things never change.
One thing that helps me in my column writing is that despite my headlong slog into old age, my memory remains pretty good when it comes to the most outrageous violations of journalism ethics.
Following the Haiti earthquake, and the non-stop efforts of the Main Stream Media to open America to an unlimited number of Haitians, I recalled an article published in the New York Times Magazine on June 18, 2000.
Titled "Desperate Passage," it`s the tale told by then-National Geographic contributing editor Michael Finkel`s and Times photographer Chris Anderson`s journey from Haiti to the United States with 46 other Haitian passengers on a 23 feet long boat powered only by two sails. [Desperate Passage, by Michael Finkel, New York Times Magazine, June 18, 2000(PDF)] [VDARE.com note: Paul Nachman met Finkel in 2006. See Speaking Up In A "Nation of Immigrants" Audience]
The Haitian`s mission was the same in 2000
as it is today: "to start a new life"
At the time, according to
In February 2000,
State Department released the results of a survey conducted
in nine Haitian cities. According to the findings, two-thirds of
Haitians—then approximately 4,690,000 people—would leave
Most would have had to go illegally, however,
since each year the
Early into Finkel`s article, at least one
of his major points was clear: the
Before going further with my analysis of
Finkel`s article, let me point out the obvious that during the
all has changed in
Nevertheless, Finkel provided important
insights into the depth of corruption involved in getting
Typically, a successful journey is made in
two parts. In the first, a boat sails from
Only the fortunate make it all the way to
Sometimes on the first leg, the ship`s
captain merely takes his travelers once around the Haitian side
of Hispaniola, drops them in a
deserted area and proclaims that they`ve landed in the
The less lucky are left to fend for
themselves in an uninhabited part of
To facilitate his trip, Finkel hired "David" for $30 daily to act as his translator and guide.
As it happened, David had been to
Given an opportunity to pursue "a better life," here`s what David did with it:
David confided to Finkel that if he ever
The Finkel-David tale continued.
After numerous delays in the launch time, "Captain Gilbert" finally appeared, assured his passengers that they would have ample supplies for their trip and that, with favorable winds, they would arrive safely within four days. At the most, Gilbert predicted, the trip would take eight days.
With good reason, Finkel was concerned about his comfort. The boat`s mast was a thin pine with no safety gear, no maps, no life rafts, no tool kit and no nautical instruments of any type save for an ancient compass. The deck boards were misaligned.
With the exception of the hold, there was no shelter from the elements.
Gilbert readily offered up the chilling fact that he had personally built the boat in three weeks, at a cost of $4,000.
David added to an increasingly nervous Finkel that in Haitian-style boat building, nails are pulled from other craft, hammered straight and reused.
Shortly after Finkel, Anderson and the prospective illegal aliens set sail, everything went wrong. The boat pitched violently. Water immediately came through the cracks. The sound of vomiting and voodoo prayers surrounded Finkel.
The same bucket used to retch into, once a margarine container, also served as a portable toilet.
Eighteen hours after the journey began, the
U.S. Coast Guard intercepted the vessel. Of the 450 miles from
A Coast Guard official said that even under the best of circumstances, given the vessel`s rickety condition, the Bahamas were ten days away and that the passengers would begin to die within 48 hours.
In the end, all 44 Haitians were flown to
Nassau for interviews with the United Nations High Commission
for Refugees. None qualified. They were then returned to
Once back in
In his final paragraphs, Finkel concludes
that given the extraordinary number of people fleeing
That`s unquestionably true. Finkel`s story is replete with references to previously botched trips that involved fatalities. And the New York Times` extensive archive of Haitian stories offers dozens of additional examples.
Finkel`s conclusion and the message that he wanted to convey to his readers: since thousands of Haitians are willing to die to get to America, therefore U.S. immigration policy must be more accepting.
Personally, I came away with a completely
different solution. If the U.S.
enforced its immigration laws and actively pursued and
deported Haitian aliens living in
In the interim, the brutal practice of Haitians preying on Haitians would also end.
The Haitian immigration tragedy is further evidence of the immorality of America`s non-enforcement status quo, which tempts people to risk their lives because the prize if they can get here is so great.
A footnote of interest: in early 2002, the NYT discovered that Finkel had falsified certain details in his story "Is Youssouf Malé a Slave?" by creating a composite character whose actions could not be verified. As a result of its original investigation, the NYT reviewed six other Finkel stories including Desperate Passage.
The only factual error it uncovered: the boat was not sinking of its own accord, as Finkel reported, but the Coast Guard accelerated its sinking to "protect shipping lanes."
But the NYT did not comment on Finkel`s larger error of missing the consequences of America`s failed immigration policy.
Joe Guzzardi [email him] is a California native who recently fled the state because of over-immigration, over-population and a rapidly deteriorating quality of life. He has moved to Pittsburgh, PA where the air is clean and the growth rate stable. A long-time instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, Guzzardi has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.