About Undocumented Immigrants Affected by 9/11 Is Confidential
August 22, 2002
By Santiago Bonilla
Those undocumented immigrants who were affected by the fall of
the Twin Towers can now sleep in peace.
Governor George Pataki and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said
they were glad to hear that the Immigration and Naturalization Service
will not use for deportation purposes the information that undocumented
victims family members give to the Federal Victim Compensation
This clarification, which was asked for at least a month ago, will
help victims and their families give the federal government their
personal information and claim benefits without being afraid that
the information could cause them to be deported by the immigration
"Among those who died on September 11 were undocumented immigrants
looking for a better future. This change by the Immigration and
Naturalization Service is very important and will help those undocumented
workers claim benefits," Pataki said.
Sptizer said that "many family members and undocumented immigrants
have been forgotten victims, because even though Congress created
a compensation fund, they failed to create a system of compensation
for the family members of undocumented workers who died on September
This economical amnesty project for undocumented immigrants affected
by September 11 was initiated by William Rodríguez, president
of the Hispanic victims group, and by Kenneth Feinberg, special
administrator of the Victim Compensation Fund and supported by Pataki
"We are happy that Pataki and Spitzer were able to back this
project so that victims and family members can claim benefits without
being afraid of being deported and move on with their lives,"
Congress created the compensation fund so that victims and family
members can receive the compensation they deserve after the losses
they suffered in the terrorist attacks. The claims are presented
through the Department of Justice.
Many of undocumented immigrants who lost family members did not
present their claims because the Immigration and Naturalization
Service is part of the Department of Justice and they were afraid
that their information would be used to deport them
Many employers were reluctant to provide or verify information
because they feared fines or repercussions from the Department of
Justice because they had hired undocumented workers.
Community groups and leaders, with the support of Pataki and Spitzer,
asked the immigration service not to use the information for future
deportations. In response to this request, immigration service commissioner
James Ziglar wrote a letter to Feinberg explaining that the immigration
service would not use the personal information to "initiate"
deportation procedures against those applying to the fund and their
At the request of various community groups, Pataki and Spitzer
wrote back to Ziglar on July 8 asking him to prohibit the use of
this information for any type of deportation procedure.
The Immigration and Naturalization Service accepted the request
and agreed not to use this information to deport undocumented immigrants.
An immigration service spokesperson said "we will not use the
information that family members of undocumented victims send to
the Victim Compensation Fund."
Translated from Spanish by Erica Pearson