News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Sept. 15, 2017: It’s hard to believe 16 years has already gone by since 9/11 – because each year, the memories, the sights, the sounds and the sadness slams me like a hurricane and I’m taken back to that horrific day. I still remember clearly – seeing with these immigrant eyes on the television screen, the moment the first plane flew into the World Trade Center. I was getting ready to go to work at the New York Trend newspaper in Long Island and I at first thought it was an accident.
And so I got on the phone and called my brother who worked in the American Express building near the WTC to tell him. As the phone rang and my eyes remained glued to the TV, I saw like a movie a second plane fly directly into second tower and burst into flames. I knew in that instant that it was intentional so as my first words to my brother as he answered was get out.
And luckily he did, because that nightmare he tried to flee following the crash of the towers and the pain and anguish we as a family endured trying to locate him in the hours after still haunts me. Like many who fled, my brother is an immigrant too.
He was lucky to survive – he ran for dozens of blocks, a bandana tied over his mouth to prevent from suffocating on the dust that was chasing him down like a giant monster. And he walked over the 59th Street Bridge and all the way home to Jackson Heights, Queens, much to our relief.
Almost 600 of the almost 2,800 who lost their lives in the WTC terror attack that day were foreign born immigrants. About 586 were foreign born immigrants, including about 100 who were undocumented while 27 people) were foreign nationals from eight different countries.
I still remember the stench in the days after in downtown Manhattan, as a reporter covering the tragedy and the sirens that seemed to scream on in my head.
And my heart still breaks each year, as I remember all the immigrants’ families I interviewed after, including many surviving relatives of Windows on the World workers. Their tears fell with mine as we talked and their pain became mine, making me often too ill to eat in the aftermath. Their heart break over never seeing their loved ones again even as they shared their story in the hopes in those immediate days after that their love ones were still alive and just “lost” became my wish too and then my heart break.
I still remember the shock of seeing the list of the many Caribbean immigrants who had lost their lives including:
Guyanese: Nezam A. Hafiz; Eustace R. Bacchus; Kris Romeo Bishundat; Annette Andrea Dataram; Ricknauth Jaggernauth; Sarah Khan; Amarnauth Lachhman; Amenia Rasool; Sita Nermalla Sewnarine; Hardai Parbhu; Jamaicans: Delrose E. Forbes Cheatham; Joyce Smith; Vaswald George Hall; Derrick Auther Green; Joan Donna Griffith; Courtney Wainsworth Walcott; John Sylvester White; Lloyd Stanford Brown; Kerene Gordon; Denise Marie Gregory Michael Richards; Venesha Orintia Richards; Grenadian Jeffrey G. La Touche; Barbadians Colin Arthur Bonnett; Pauline Francis and Melissa Renée Vincent: Trinidad & Tobagonians, Rena Sam Dinnoo, Winston Arthur Grant, Stephen Joseph, Glenroy I. Neblett, Boyie Mohammed, Clara Victorine Hinds, Anthony Portillo, Goumatie Thackurdeen; Haitians Mark Y. Gilles, Andre Bonheur, Jr. and Francois Jean-Pierre; Dominican Fitzroy St. Rose, Lucy Francis and Antiguan & Barbudan Albert Gunnis Joseph, Emelda Perry and Catherina Henry-Robinson.
Yet, 16 years later, while we vowed as a nation then that we would never forget, many, including the current President of the United States, has defiled the immigrants victims of 9/11 with the seeds of division he has sown from the start of his campaign; his anti-immigrant rhetoric and his decision to stop the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
So as on Monday morning, as we once more called their names and held moments of silence and bowed our heads and prayed for their souls, I know the spirit of the immigrant victims of 9/11 must be mourning anew at the state of this country and the hatred being shown to immigrants, especially by this current administration.
A true way to honor them Donald Trump would be with a plan to allow for those in this country who are moral, hardworking residents already to obtain a work permit and travel documents; and that includes an extension for DACA recipients and Haitians with TPS. Let’s hope you mean what you said Thursday and truly can deliver.