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An Undocumented Worker Describes the Impact of the World Trade Center Attack

This undocumented worker was left without work when the World Trade Center was attacked on September 11, 2001. The hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who staff low paying jobs in the service industries are often invisible, despite their important contributions to the nationís economy. Largely unprotected by labor laws and ineligible for social security and unemployment insurance, these immigrants struggle to support themselves as well as, in many cases, family and relatives in their countries of origin. Their suffering in the wake of the World Trade Center attack was similarly invisible, although the tragedy hit the undocumented workers who worked in the center particularly hard. Undocumented workers could not gain government-sponsored economic assistance or other forms of relief available to citizens who lost work.

Listen to Audio:

UNDOCUMENTED WORKER: I’m doing the waiting and bartending, I was working for like seven years, before, that was my job. I was working in the World Trade Center, the second building . I think, it’s not just for me now, but I think for everybody, their lives change a lot because you lose everything. So if you have family, if you’ve got kids, if you support somebody, so you lose everything, so what you have to do. The ocean is going to start again but you know it not really to, it’s not really the thing to start again but it’s trying to find again the job, it’s so hard because nobody comes to New York, the business goes down. So a lot of people are on less employment right now, so you know.

All the immigrants come into this country and do the jobs what other people don’t like to do it. We work in, you know, anywhere, we’re working in any situation. We contribute like other people because we pay taxes and we never receive nothing. So I think, I think where is that money, you know. Without that money we don’t care, that’s what we care is working and just and more benefits for our family. We don’t got papers, we don’t got nothing, we are nothing in this country. That’s only why we do just working and just try to support anyone, any person. You know it is very hard.

Source: Interviewed by Simin Farkhondeh 10/01
Courtesy of Labor at the Crossroads