Health Care and Social Issues of Immigrant Rescue and Recovery Workers at the World Trade Center Site
This article reviews the experience of a unique occupational group of World Trade Center (WTC) workers: immigrant workers. This group is comprised largely of men, laborers, who are first-generation immigrants. The majority of these workers are from Latin America (predominantly from Ecuador and Colombia) or from Eastern Europe (predominantly from Poland). Our data shows that the disease profile observed in these workers was what we have previously reported for WTC working population as a whole. Recent reports have begun to document the disproportionate burden of occupational hazards, injuries, and illnesses experienced by immigrant workers in the United States. The WTC experience of immigrants exemplified this burden but, additionally, highlighted that this burden is exacerbated by limitations in access to appropriate health care, disability and compensation benefits, and vocational rehabilitation services. A clinical program that was designed to address the complex medical and psychosocial needs of these workers in a comprehensive manner was successfully established. Full justice for these workers depends on larger societal changes.