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World Trade Center memorial wall
2.01.02
Society and Community:
The Invisible Ones
More on This Story:
Stories of Survivors

Near Ground Zero, in restaurants, bars, flower shops, and magazine stands, nearly half of the workers were undocumented according to Mexican immigrant aid group Asociacion Tepeyac. These invisible victims — and no one knows how many there are — face daunting problems. Former employers are reluctant to identify their employees. Some relatives of victims can't even get private aid because they can't prove their loved ones were at Ground Zero. These are the stories of three such victims.


  • I can remember everything — I can remember -the people yelling, jumping for help, running. And I can see it's nothing at all. After 11 years, I see day by day. At least, you know, from 10 am to 10 pm I was running back and forth to the World Trade Center. Now it's nothing...now it's all ruins...that's all. That's unbelievable. -Chino

  • He came here because we had nothing there. He said that he'd just come and we'd make a little nest egg and then he'd be coming back. -Félix

  • I kept on watching the news. The Tower fell. Yes, at that moment, I said to God that something was going on. Why? I asked Him. No, this is terrible. The world was coming to an end. At least my world...-Carmen

  • Chino
    Chino
    Chino is from Mexico. He worked for 11 years in a restaurant near the World Trade Center, supporting his wife and children. Now the restaurant has closed and Chino, undocumented, has no income. He worries about himself and his family, but he is also worried about the busboys and cooks from his former restaurant. He has decided to help others in his situation by helping at an aid organization for Mexican workers, Asociacion Tepeyac. Here are his words:

  • (on his children) "Well, at least we tried not to be too tight with them in terms of food. That's our priority, you know. Since we have milk in the refrigerator and a piece of bread, I think that's good for them. Whatever I do, that's because my family, they help me. They try to do our best, but it's not enough, believe me. I am always working, I always make my own money, so that's the way I will try to do it. And I hope I'm going to get something later on to survive and get back to normal."

  • (on his culture) "I try to continue with my hobby. I am a teacher of folkdance. Everything is folklore from Mexico. We do a la Feria del Sol we call them. We did an event in Staten Island. We praying before each presentation. We pray that everything goes well."

  • Felix
    Félix:

    Félix is in a very difficult situation. She was at home with her four children in Puebla Mexico on September 11. She knew her companero (boyfriend) worked near the World Trade Center and after not hearing from him she headed north. She paid a coyote $1,600 to bring her over the border — spending four days in the undercarriage of a car. She doesn't know where her boyfriend worked, she has no marriage license, is pregnant and speaks no English and neither reads nor writes in Spanish.

  • (on her search) "The first thing I did was to try to look [for him], but...I didn't know anybody here...I came out here all alone...After two weeks I still couldn't go on. One day I went to a park, and I sat down there, and I met this little girl's mother, and that's who helped me. "I'm going to find you a job." And I started to work."

  • (on having her baby in the United States) "Why? Because here, my friends tell me I should stay here so that when he grows up and he wants to come here he won't have problems like a lot of people. And now, this country has problems, but... maybe it will work out."

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