Disaster and social vulnerability: The case of undocumented Mexican migrant workers
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The undocumented status of many immigrants disfranchises them from receiving most of the state and federal support offered to other members of their community. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) guidelines, non-citizens may only receive disaster counseling, legal services and other short-term non-cash emergency assistance. Undocumented people are further marginalized by reducing their options of evacuation due to their low economic status and the cost of evacuating. Living in a country that has become increasingly concerned with issues of border security exacerbates the discrimination many minorities encounter during times of disaster. This discrimination perpetuates an environment of fear during disasters that discourages undocumented individuals from seeking whatever little services are available to them. Past negative experiences with government agencies, both here and in their country of origin, contributes to their fear of evacuating, leaving the safety of their home and seeking help from local, state and federal authorities. (Fothergill, 1999).