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Bloggings On Immigration Law And Policy

by Greg Siskind

Sick Immigrant Workers from Ground Zero Afraid to Seek Help

If we ever needed an illustration of immigrants doing jobs Americans simply won't do, here is the quintessential example. The Wall Street Journal reports

In the months after the Sept. 11 attacks, Nayibe Padredin cleaned offices around ground zero, clearing thick layers of dust so lower Manhattan could get back to work. Three months into the job, she began to have coughing attacks and headaches, struggled to get air and found herself easily fatigued. But she kept working, reasoning that she needed the money.

Hundreds of low-paid cleaners toiled alongside her, many of them also Spanish-speaking immigrants. Now Padredin and many of her colleagues say they're sick from the time they spent cleaning without adequate protective gear. They haven't been nearly as visible as those who worked at the site  itself, but they are struggling to cope with how their time on the perimeter of the disaster site has transformed their lives.

Ten years after the attacks, their symptoms are the same as those reported by many others exposed to the dust, primarily respiratory and digestive illnesses like asthma and acid reflux. Programs offer medical assistance to anyone who spent time at the site after the attacks and is diagnose with those conditions, but for reasons ranging from ignorance of the application process to fear of being deported, some of the cleanup workers did not immediately seek treatment or compensation.

'They are hesitant to seek health care because they are afraid,' said Dr. Jaime Carcamo, a
psychologist who treats about 90 Hispanic cleanup workers in Queens some of who are illegal immigrants.