Undocumented immigrants were left hanging yesterday when the Department of Justice announced its draft guidelines forthe dispensation of money from the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund. While undocumented widows and injuredworkers were not specifically barred from receiving the funds, they were not specifically covered either. The movewas a blow to undocumented immigrants and their advocates, and was harshly criticized by State Attorney General EliotSpitzer, among others.
For the large community of undocumented immigrants living in New York City, the last three months have beenparticularly hard ones. With hundreds presumed dead in the World Trade Center collapse and thousands newly jobless,they have struggled with grief, fears of deportation, and extreme economic hardship. Barred from receiving mostforms of government assistance, widows and former workers alike have been left to worry largely on their own abouttheir short- and long-term survival.
Had undocumented immigrants been guaranteed an absolute right to coverage by the federal Victim Compensation fund,they would have won an important symbolic as well as economic victory. The fund is expected to yield $6 billion forvictims of September 11th, with awards averaging $1.65 million for families who lost loved ones.
- Margarita Redroban, former employee Windows on the World, lost job and partner in the WTC attacks.
- Marisol Alcantara, Program Director, Immigrant Workers Assistance Alliance.
- Asmat Ali, former captain, Windows on the World and current Outreach Coordinator, Immigrant WorkersAssistance Alliance.
- Dennis Diaz, organizer, Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees (HERE) union Local 100.
- Hector Figueroa, Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
- Son Ah Yun, National Campaign for Jobs and Income Support.