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The mighty and the meek, missing together

Looking for the 'invisible people' in Manhattan

Missing-persons posters
Posters with photos of the missing are all over New York. Many of those unaccounted for are undocumented -- the "little people" who worked as service personnel at the World Trade Center.  


By Maria Hinojosa
CNN

NEW YORK (CNN) -- In a small Queens apartment, the mourning is visible from the street.

Ecuadoran Henry Homero Fernandez was a pastry chef at Windows on the World, the popular luxury restaurant situated on the 106th floor of the north tower, or Tower 1, of the World Trade Center.

Fernandez's uncle said that for Henry, it didn't matter how much money he made because he just loved his work so much.

He was a 23-year-old soccer fanatic who came to make a name for himself in the United States. But he was undocumented. His dream was to become a U.S. citizen.

The twin towers lost thousands of financial district employees -- the brokers and agents of power and American monetary might. And right beside them were the "little people" -- the men and women who cleaned up the offices at night or cooked and served all that expensive restaurant food.

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Antonio Javier left his baby boy in Puebla, Mexico. He helped prepare the kitchen at Windows on the World.

Betsey Martinez worked for a law firm. She leaves behind two little girls.

At Tepeyac, a center for immigrants, the staff is trying to help the survivors who've been left without life insurance. Because many were undocumented workers, there's no official record they even lived in New York, much less a record of their deaths.

"We are dealing with this problem," said Joel Magellan of the Tepeyac Immigrants Association, "that they are usually 'invisible people.' They aren't on the payroll. They aren't on the official lists of any institution."

Many service workers live paycheck to paycheck. For some 2,000 workers, those paychecks are gone.

"A lot of people basically take us for granted," said maintenance worker Ivan Almendarez. "You just work there and everything. I'm very sad, very sad, all these emotions."

Their pictures are mixed among those of the lawyers and the stockbrokers. Some have been posted on the Internet.

There's the picture of Martin Moralez, a 22-year-old busboy said to have never been a minute late to work.

And there's Odulio Ruiz of Paraguay, whose absence orphans three little girls.

Idro Hidalgo's three young daughters have kept up their search for him. He's from the Dominican Republic and was last seen on the 107th floor -- waiting to cook lunch for people.





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