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September 11 one year on Friday, 6 September, 2002, 13:56 GMT 14:56 UK
New York's unseen victims
Mourners at a 'Wall of prayer' for those missing in the World Trade Center
The true number of dead may never be known

The hardest thing for Martha Morocho to accept was the loss of her long-time partner.

"He meant everything to me," she says, her voice breaking. "We had a lovely family".

Since arriving from Ecuador 10 years ago, she had dedicated her life to caring for their five daughters.

Her husband, an illegal immigrant, worked as a kitchen assistant in the Windows on the World restaurant, at the World Trade Center. His body was never found.

And because there is no death certificate, his wife and daughters are unable to claim any financial compensation to help them survive.


Employers are refusing to admit they employed illegal immigrants for fear of official reprisal

"I couldn't accept that he'd gone. That's why I didn't seek any help before now," says Martha, who now spends much of her time going round the offices of aid organisations in New York, while at the same time trying to look after her daughters.

For Martha and families like hers it has not been easy to get support from the Federal Compensation Fund, in spite of the fact that its head, Kenneth Feinberg, confirms they are entitled to it.

Financial need has forced many illegal immigrants to overcome the fear of being deported. But it has not made up for the lack of proof that the person being claimed for did in fact work in the Twin Towers.

Employers are refusing to admit they employed illegal immigrants for fear of official reprisal. This has added to the difficulties the families have had in seeking aid.

A ray of light

In the months following the attacks, work by Hispanic organisations in New York managed to increase the flow of aid to these families. Though they probably will never be entitled to official aid because of the status of their relatives, some help has come from other areas.

The Red Cross and Save Horizon have changed their stance on Latino immigrants. Initially they refused to accept those without official papers, or to give aid to people without paperwork to prove economic loss.

Joel Magallan, Tepeyac Association
Joel Magallan: Investigative task
The Tepeyac Association, a social organisation with its headquarters in New York, undertook to investigate the identity of 63 people who had been reported missing.

"We spoke to neighbours and other people who knew them in order to try to help the families," says Joel Magallan, director of the association. "That way, we have managed to verify these cases."

That was how it was possible to channel funds made available by unions and churches, and buy a house in Honduras for the four children of Luis Norales, who died while attending a job interview in Tower One. His wife Elda did not match the necessary requirements to qualify for aid. But all these efforts are still insufficient in overcoming the difficulties faced by these families.

False papers

Julia Hernandez lost her husband who was a restaurant worker for six years in the Twin Towers. She says it has not been easy to get by.

The aid organisations all agree that the official figures will never reveal how many Hispanics died in the World Trade Center.

The Mexican consular authorities have issued only eight death certificates. Circumstances made it very difficult to identify the remains, especially for the workers without the proper documentation. The authorities admit that these people would often change their names or get hold of false papers in order to get work.

"Of the 63 people on our list, 17 of them have not been registered officially," explains Joel Magallan. "Without the right documents, they did not appear on the books, and employers are refusing to recognise they employed them."

Many of them were reported missing by their room-mates or friends.

"We know of their existence, but we still don't have sufficient details to inform their families," says Mr Magallan.

"This makes us think that the number of dead must be much bigger than the official figure."


New York despatches

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