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Immigration Story: Fashionable, Irish immigrant vs. Guatemalan cook

KW: This story seems so unreal. It is like a comedy of manners to expose the classism and racism that underlies the immigration debate in the United States. Pay attention to the rich people’s privilege and indifference. See if you can notice the two Hispanic people treated unfairly in this story (maybe you will notice, because the rich people involved did not care.)

(excerpt from) The NY Times
Illegal Immigrants Caught on a Yacht, in a Web of Maritime Laws

By KIRK SEMPLE
Published: July 27, 2010

Gaea Rich and her family were in full holiday mode aboard their yacht on the Fourth of July as they motored from Stamford, Conn., across Long Island Sound and into Oyster Bay, off the North Shore of Long Island.

The trip, with more than 15 relatives and friends, was supposed to be the high point of a weekend family reunion. But a few hours into the cruise, after what began as an apparently routine stop by a marine patrol of local and federal law enforcement officials, two passengers — a Guatemalan caterer hired for the day and Ms. Rich’s boyfriend, David Quinn, an Irishman who had worked for years as a horse-carriage driver in Central Park — were taken away on a police boat by federal immigration officials. Both men were illegal immigrants; they now face deportation…

“We couldn’t believe it,” recalled Ms. Rich, 28, a fashion designer for Ralph Lauren. “Everyone was just shocked.”

The boat is registered in the Caribbean nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and owned by Ms. Rich’s uncle…

Many American yacht owners register their boats in foreign countries, often for tax purposes…

The July 4 incident began about 1:30 p.m. when a boat operated by the Nassau County Police Department pulled alongside the 63-foot yacht as it entered Oyster Bay. On the police vessel were customs and Coast Guard officers, Officer Saleh said; he did not provide more details about the stop. The Nassau police said they were assisting Customs and Border Protection and referred all inquiries to that agency…

Immigration officials took one catering worker, a Hispanic woman, to a room below deck and interviewed her for about half an half before determining that she was in the United States legally, Ms. Rich said.

The officers then asked all the other passengers — some of them foreign citizens with green cards or work visas — for government-issued identification. When Mr. Quinn and the catering worker were unable to produce proof that they were in the country legally, the officers took them below deck, Ms. Rich said…

He [Mr. Quinn] said that he was held in the same detention center, in Elizabeth, N.J., as the catering worker, but that the worker was not granted a similar temporary reprieve. (Neither Mr. Quinn nor Ms. Rich knew the worker’s name.)…

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