ORIGINAL ARTICLE IN WORD FORMAT]
EDITED ARTICLE IN WORD FORMAT]
First name: Humberto. Last name: Don't know. City of Origin: Presidente
su Pueblo. State and Country: Puebla, Mexico. Job Location: Shapiro
Restaurant, or maybe Akbars.
Humberto leads a growing list of undocumented workers missing since
the World Trade Center attacks. Many of the disappeared are young
men who lived in small apartments with other Latino immigrants. Their
roommates fear reporting the missing to police because they themselves
are illegal. Instead, they turn to Tepeyac, a New York human rights
group which has been helping undocumented workers.
Tepeyac estimates that 1,200 Latinos died in the World Trade Center
bombings, many of whom were undocumented workers. The faceless victims
had no pay stubs, no W2 forms, and many, no family in New York. They
shinedshoes, laundered suits, and assembled sandwiches for the executives
working in the financial offices above. Most sent money home and with
roommates who didn't even know each other's last names.
The Stanford chapter of MEChA, a national political advocacy group,
met last Tuesday to discuss the attack's repercussions on the Latino
community. The discussion was entitled "Victimas sin Caras,"
or "Victims without Faces."
MEChA Administrative Assistant Aryn Conrad explained that worried
relatives in Latin America are searching for information on their
"Many of these families are without access to telecommunications,"
Conrad said. "They only know that somewhere in America, something
happened, and they haven't heard from you in a while."
One hundred families have asked Tepeyac for help in locating missing
people, and 31 of those people have been found. Some were survivors,
and others had simply lost contact with their families after the attacks.
When someone reports a missing person to Tepeyac, volunteers try
to contact the family. Often, they must call rural areas of Latin
America and break the news over the phone lines.
Tepeyac is also acting as an unemployment center for Latinos who
lost their jobs because of the attacks. In addition to the restaurants
and newspaper stands buried in the rubble, countless businesses in
the vicinity closed due to damage or lack of business. Tepeyac reports
that 2,866 unemployed workers have visited their offices. Almost half
of those are undocumented. These former waiters and shoe shiners received
minimum wage and lived day to day. An undocumented worker with a security
nest is rare.
Although the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers assistance
to attack victims, workers must present proof that they were employed
at an affected business. For undocumented workers who were paid with
cash, proof usually is an impossibility. Former employers could vouch
for the workers, but most are reluctant to admit that they hired illegal
FEMA has referred such workers to nongovernmental agencies that are
assisting the relief effort, but many of these NGOs also demand proof
of employment.. Otherwise, they reason, anyone could walk in off the
street and ask for funds.
Families of the dead, on the other hand, are eligible for assistance.
Immigration and Naturalization Commissioner James Zigler said that
the families of undocumented workers can still receive aid. Illegal
immigrants are used to staying in the shadows, however, and asking
for help from the government can be intimidating.
Tepeyec has documented 30 missing illegal immigrants, but estimates
that the number is much higher. The names of the dead won't be listed
on any memorial, and no obituaries will run in the New York Times.
"The whole idea of people who died anonymously is really hard
for us," Stanford Graduate Student Alfonso Gonzales said at the
Following the round table discussion, students created signs to boost
campus awareness of how Latinos have been affected by the attacks.
Some chose to honor the missing. One sign read "En memoria de
Humberto," or "In memory of Humberto."