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Immigrants Who Responded After 9/11 Lack Health Care

Many immigrants who worked at Ground Zero after 9/11 are struggling with serious health problems and have nowhere to turn to, according to advocates.// "When we were needed on 9/11, no one asked for our papers. Now they don't want us here anymore," said Lucelly Gil, who was present in the disaster zone.

A Daily News investigation showed that contractors were taking illegal immigrants to work in danger zone without providing the necessary protection. "All of us who worked in the disaster zone worked because we wanted to help the city," said Alberto Melo, 47, one of the day laborers. "The only thing that mattered to the contractors was that we work quickly. We're getting sicker each day." After editorials in The News criticized the administration Governor Pataki immediately signed three laws that would provide health care to 9/11 responders. Dr. Joan Reibman, who leads the Bellevue Hospital WTC Health Impact Treatment Program, said that the government must take care of these people.

"We got the downtown area - the stock market, the economic heart of the United States - functioning in two weeks of the disaster," said Reibman.. "The reason was because every office covered with 3 inches of dust in all the surrounding buildings was cleaned up by undocumented workers. We owe them a lot."


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