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WaPo: Advocates Say Illegal Workers Suffer After 9/11 Cleanup

Jose Moncada watched the World Trade Center towers tumble, and, like so many Americans, felt a patriotic urge to help rescue survivors and rebuild after Sept. 11. "It was my time to put my hand on my heart," he said. "It was my time to help somebody."

It did not matter to him that he was an illegal immigrant from Honduras. And that did not seem to matter to supervisors who oversaw the retrieval of human remains and the removal of toxic debris at Ground Zero. They welcomed Moncada and thousands of other illegal immigrants, no questions asked.

Working on the pile for 10 days, Moncada breathed in thick dust, grainy asbestos and foul-smelling gases driven by an angry downtown wind. Now, five years later, he suffers from a hacking cough, nosebleeds, wheezing breath and life-threatening respiratory illnesses that also trouble thousands of legal U.S. residents who worked there.

No one knows how many illegal immigrants worked at Ground Zero in the days after Sept. 11. Immigration advocates claim it was thousands.

[... more horror stories ... ]

In 2004, an advocacy group called Beyond Ground Zero noticed more and more immigrants getting sick. The advocates approached Bellevue Hospital and asked for help. The hospital started an unfunded program that provided care to patients, and last year the American Red Cross donated money to expand the program.

This month, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (R) pledged $16 million over five years to expand the initiative further. Within two weeks, the occupational safety committee received more than 350 calls from immigrants, Calderón said. Newton said 500 people had been screened for medical examinations by her organization, and 700 people were waiting.

But the assistance may have come too late for illegal immigrants who have gone home since working at Ground Zero, advocates and workers said.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Sun Oct 8th, 2006 at 06:10:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
boy, it sure rubs in the significance of your sig...

unbelievable....if the american public really ever does find out how much funny business there was arouund 9/11, there will be a public rage and will-for-accountability that will be up there with....i was going to say 'nuremberg', then godwin nudged...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 05:47:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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