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A A A A A New York Voices is made possible by the members of 13 additional funding provided by Carnegie Corporation of New York. We have to think I think carefully about not allowing fear of terrorism to create the whole still feel the fear of immigrants. My daughter was very okay with what happened and one of the option that I gave her wise if she felt more to say on being outdoors without thinking tad just because I would be jammin.
I look a little different doesn't mean me and pats you with if you have a New York City is going to continue to be the financial capital of the world which it is by a very large degree and must continue to have Wall Street as the center of it. New York one voice the top New York places. Welcome to New York Voices on Rafael Pirro mine. New Yorkers like to think that their city is a solid as a rock as we know September 11th challenge that view. We're here at Ellis Island because this program is about change and nothing changed New York City as dramatically or as dynamically as the many ways of immigrants who pass through this place on the way to becoming New Yorkers. A lot is changing in New York City these days. The skyline of lower Manhattan has changed and will soon begin to change again. We'll speak to the man
responsible for the new transformation. Some immigrants are changing the way they look at the city in the country. We'll hear one mother's story about coping with the aftermath of September 11th. And our immigration policies may be facing some profound transformations as well. We'll explore the implications of those changes with one of the city's most thoughtful immigration experts. But we begin the program with the voices of the newest New Yorkers. Our newest citizens. This is the happiest day in my life and become the citizen of the United States. My dream come true. I have facets and I have choice. My minister felt that I came to this country because of the many opportunities that if I become a citizen I'd rather go and make try to make a difference. After the 11 September we had took too much so many lives have been lost.
I do think that it tends to bring us to sit together. I felt and I felt hurt and I felt that we have to do something and I want to be a part of her old. I'm glad I'm in the Navy at St. Louis America Seaview home my home. I'm here with Professor Phil Cass and it's in front of Ellis Island for many years a gateway into the United States for millions of immigrants. Professor Cason it's can we achieve security in this country without closing the gateways to those who want to visit this country those who want to study here those who want to move here to start a better life. Well we better be able to because so much of our wealth so much of our culture so much of who we are as a people really depends on the incorporation of immigrants and certainly New York so much the local economy depends on the incorporation of immigrants I really see that we don't have a choice in terms of how to do that. And I don't think it's that
difficult. I think that this initial urge to sort of pull up the gates and temporarily freeze everything while completely understandable given the events of September 11th is is fundamentally wrong. New York depends on thousands of foreign students who come here every year thousands of foreign tourists who come here every year and spend money. People who come here to to to work and to play and extraordinary. A number of different countries that were affected by the World Trade Center tragedy from all the international traders that you saw to to the workers the Bengali Mexican West Indian workers who were working in the building just show how International a tragedy this really was. Clearly there are a number of things that have to be done I think and someone who works in a university before September 11th I would have said out there the feds tell us that weve got to keep track of who's getting in on student visas. I've changed my mind September 11 has made it very clear that one thing
we could do and I would be very much against wholesale cutting off of student visas which some congress and senators have talked about. But you know having universities take some responsibility for policing the fact that people come in on student visas they are in fact students attending class have some regular reporting of where they are. I think that you know that makes all the sense in the world screening tourist visas a little more carefully for people with. Various kinds of political associations probably makes a great deal of sense. And the other thing I think about that's important remember is immigration policy once shifted is hard to shift back and it's very difficult to adjust immigration policy to very transiently political and economic conditions. Historically that's just never worked. We cut off immigration one thousand twenty four we really didn't get it back until the late 1960s. I mean politically it's tough and just economically it's tough. Has 9/11 changed the way New Yorkers view immigrants. I think I was surprised to find that it hasn't most the incidents occurred outside of New York City
and there hasn't been a real turning in all Muslims and Arabs by their non-Muslim and non Arab neighbors. There's still an awful lot of parts in New York where Muslims Christians and Jews live in really quite remarkable harmony. And I'm pleasantly surprised that that hasn't been as much of an issue as that I thought it would. And in general I just don't think people saw at least in New York City tended to see 9/11 as an immigrant issue because while there were immigrants or at least foreigners in the country not really immigrants among the perpetrators there were so many immigrants among the victims and you could hardly walk the streets without knowing that for a variety of reasons New York's history has been so much tied to immigration. That I just don't think that you get a anti immigrant feeling you very often will get people who might not like a particular group and I don't mean to imply this is somehow a tolerant loving city because God knows it's not.
But on the same time while people may you know while this week's immigrants absolutely are detested by last week's emigrants and the immigrants got here three months ago think they're all a bunch of slobs at the end of the day. There isn't an anti immigrant feeling. One thing that I found really remarkable was this huge outpouring of American flags which I think the rest of the country was kind of a patriotic thing. But in New York also had another meaning because three weeks before there had been this outpouring of all kinds of flies from all around the world you know. And now you are seeing sometimes in the place of the Jamaican or the Mexican or the Ecuadorian flags and sometimes right alongside the Jamaican the Mexican and the Ecuadorian flags. Also an American flag and I think it didn't just express a patriotism so much as expressed we're part of this too that we are Jamaicans and Ecuadorians of Mexicans but we're also part of this part of New York. We mourn for this tragedy it's our tragedy. And I I really think that that's been the at least the local message I'm not sure that's been played the same way outside the city.
One of the policy debates that we should be keeping an eye on the terrorist events influence politics. We have to worry about the balance between very appropriate security concerns and civil liberties. We have to think I think carefully about not allowing fear of terrorism to create a wholesale feel of fear of immigrants which really would be hitting the wrong target in a very real sense. It is true that many of the September 11 perpetrators entered the country through our overly lax student and tourist visa system. But on the other hand well-funded international terrorists are going to find another way and they came in that door because it was open. But if that door wasn't open they'd walk across the Canadian border someplace. There's an awful lot of ways to get into the country temporarily quickly. I mean we have to think about that but I'm not sure immigration policy or even entrance policy is really where you can do that. We don't want
that policy to hurt you know poor and working class people who we actually need in the country who are not at all involved in terror and who are coming in through existing immigrant channels. When I originally came to New York City about 20 years ago it was a call to shock for me because I never realized how diverse New York City was I was living in it. And New York City has been a special home for me because I felt recognized as I minority we felt very isolated and very much an outcast of the community. Shortly after September 11 and it was not that people were intentionally doing it but it was happening because people
feared the unknown. On September 11 I was yes 260 working as a classroom teacher with fifth graders. After actually seeing the reaction that fifth graders had about the incident and how they pretty much quickly generalize that it was Arabs and Muslims. I felt that there was a need to educate people and not just adults but also children because they are the future of tomorrow. And if they grow up padding these perceptions about Arabs and Muslims then we're never going to get anywhere. One of my Jewish friends called to see how I was going to tell my family. Spill it. And as I was explaining to her our concerns and issues that have been happening in the community she invited me to go and speak at her center guys. One woman had stood out and said to the whole group. I have known a lot of Arabs and Muslims on a professional
level but I've never had the opportunity to socialize with with any of them and maybe that's what we need to do. And from there my husband and I got the idea. That's what we need to do as a community. And so we had an open house in my house. And then since then that's been really one of the key things to help us to really get to know our neighbors. I have kept close contact with many of the people who came to the gathering. At that point several of those so fresh There's a lot of fear you know among members of the family and friends about feeling like they were targets. I really want to listen to that feeling like they're under attack. I haven't really spent a lot of time really communicating or talking or getting to know Arab-Americans. I felt like it was a real education for me. The thing that I fear the most was the safety of my daughter and
myself. I mean that we both wear a big job which symbolizes the Islamic faith. I realize that my daughter was very shook up with what happen and what the backlash in the community. And one of the options that I gave her was if she felt more a safe being outdoors without a job that that was a decision that she can make everybody else has a right to take him and to just because I wear the hijab and you know I look a little different. I mean it doesn't matter if you're purple or blue or green or somebody you know. I'm going to be having them signing. She felt that if something was going to happen to her it was going to happen to her and that taking the hit job was a non-negotiable which as a mother made me very proud. It's very important now to teach teachers. I had to
teach diversity because many children have been impacted by September 11. Many feel guilt and shame and embarrassment of their culture their religion and their traditions. Columbia University decided that they needed to address these issues of September 11th and how by educators coming to Santa Rosa in turn so what can they do in the classrooms. And what better way to do it through children's literature. We really have to be very aware and alert of what's really in the literature that depicts the culture that you're really wanting to study. Teachers need to be equipped and have the know how how to deal with issues that come up. We as a community can pull together. And so powerful. Just as I got to our building at the foot of Manhattan what I later found out is the first tower came down and
it was like a bomb going off right next to us. It was terrifying. We stayed downtown the first day I thought as the New York City partnership I thought we might be called or called upon so I wanted to man the phones. So with a group of about a dozen people we stayed in our offices. We had to understand what happened to us in an economic sense before we could talk about designing rebuilding. We sent out e-mails to our Natwar investment professionals bankers. We got tremendous feedback of people that were saying we want to do something. We pulled together a team of top management consultants to work on a study. Try and make a determination as to what the immediate impact was of the attack in dollars and cents terms and long range what that meant about what we're going to have to do if we produced a study that could have taken not a couple years. It's always a challenge to get people who are competitors in real life to work together. Soon as we start to organize ways that people in various industry
sectors could make a contribution to it and they were there. New York City is a place that people are passionately developing. I'm here at the offices of John Whitehead chairman of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. Mr. Whitehead what will be the most difficult part of redeveloping lower Manhattan. Well there are many difficult parts. It's hard to pick one that's more difficult are a problem right now is to restore some of the services that have been lost as a result of the disaster to get them back in operation in order to hold down their the people that live there and the firms that have operated from there and to keep lower Manhattan in the Wall Street their community intact. And again to continue to be the world's foremost financial center. The long range problem sort of planned what those buildings will look like and what they will do. And so we are dealing both with short range and long range problems. Now why did you decide to accept this very daunting job.
Well I was reluctant as the governor and the mayor and knew I had played had other plans for more leisurely plans for the next few years of my life. But I spent 37 years at Goldman Sachs are commuting from New Jersey for most of that time. But for the last decade I've worked in New York and after my Goldman Sachs years and then four years in Washington I was the chairman of the New York Federal Reserve Bank so I've had some more years down there and this is my territory this is my city. And people thought that I could. Do this job. I think I found it hard to say no. The sphere that rests behind me in many ways symbolizes New York on the six month anniversary of the attack. New York dedicated to temporary memorials. It's a sphere that for 30 years stood in the plaza of the World Trade Center as a symbol of global peace. On September 11th it was them it just
it was damaged but not destroyed. I was thinking as the program went on 60 years ago I stood on the steps of the Capitol in Washington and heard President Roosevelt talk about Pearl Harbor attack the day before. He said it was a day of infamy. September 11th was another day of infamy in our country. We've recovered now we're recovering we will never forget the poor victims. We will honor their families and their loved ones. And the job is now to rebuild and we are beginning the rebuilding process now. We will show the terrorists that we cannot be deterred from making this an even greater America than it's been in the past. What's your vision for the 16 acre side of the World Trade Center. Well I think it can best be developed with the in the first place a wonderful beautiful memorial park the kind that
will be inspirational in addition to the tragedy that happened there and the people that were killed in that on that site. This event resulted in a whole new atmosphere in America. Americans are once again set aside a lot of petty differences and petty bickering and have become I believe re-inspired the principles on which our country was founded. Not only Americans but people from all over the world have pulled together in this war on terrorism that the besets us all. And so there's a symbolism that attach to this event that's a very positive one. I believe it hasn't occurred or been like this since World War Two. And again the country all pulled together for the several years of that war and we're now in a similar war that will last also for several years. And this event set that off and I believe it's going to be a memorial that will. A positive
aspect to it as well as the tragic aspect to it and that the memorial must represent that number starts the memorial you have other plans for the memorial. I don't believe is likely to. It seems to me there's a consensus forming that it's not likely to cover the whole 16 acres. I point out to people that one acre is almost exactly the size of a football field and then therefore. Several football fields should be wonderful for any kind of memorial the kind that I would have in mind. And we don't really need a bigger a bigger area for the memorial than that. But then surrounding the memorial I believe there will be a multi use buildings of various sorts. I think there is very likely to be a new culture or culture and arts building that will be built on the 16 acres. I believe there is likely to be several principly office buildings built on the
site. People we have to restore Manhattan in the office space there although those office buildings will not come into operation for several years and will come in one after the other because we don't want a flood. Lower Manhattan with empty office space but as the region redeveloped office space will once again become in in great demand I believe. How are you going to convince the corporations who lost their space and moved across the river that they should return to lower Manhattan especially if the redevelopment takes a few years. It's going to be a great place. And to the extent that those firms are Wall Street firms or connected with Wall Street I believe they will want to come back if they've left and they will be embarrassed by not being part of Wall Street any longer. I mean Jersey City is not New York City. And I believe that psychologically if New York City is going to continue to be the financial capital of the world which it is by a very large degree it must
continue to have Wall Street as the center of it so those who move out will regret it. Some of had to move out temporarily but they're moving back now. Merrill Lynch in the last couple of weeks moved 6000 people back into their world headquarters right. Right. The area that was damaged. How much economic assistance do you think will be from the federal government. We need a lot of economic assistance from the federal government. But I should say first that most of this development has to occur in the private sector. Developers have to build the buildings. Private Sector owners have to own the buildings and private sector firms have to rent space in the buildings so that part is all very important. Every few days I see notices of people moving back. And last week the United Federation of Teachers moved its headquarters from midtown down to the Wall Street area. A wonderful sign very very helpful to us
in the coming weeks. There are lots of plans for opening up new restaurants new stores and we're pushing everybody to come on down it's going to be wonderful. You've said that every citizen of the city has an interest in this project. How will our voices be heard. We are forming a group of advisory committees those committees will represent the various constituencies will be a committee of families of the victims will be a committee of for the residents. Committee for the shopkeepers and so on and those committees will can choose do they want to hold public hearings where others want their voices heard can speak. Some of them will meet privately with members of our board delegated to meet with them about their problems. I will feed that all that information back to our board and our board will then have guidance from these constituencies as to what the people want done. If this is of interest not only to the people of the city but also to the people of the country. We've been we've noted with great interest. There are
long lines that have been waiting at the viewing site with people willing to wait in the cold for hours just to observe the site and we believe when this memorial is developed that there are people from all over the country indeed from all over the world will want to visit this site as one of the most important places in the nation's history that ranks with things like the Washington Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial and the other great memorials that we have. When will you consider your job completed. It's going to go on for a long time. With or without me in charge I think it's the governor was right when he said it's a ten year project. Some of these buildings will very likely not be completed for as long as 10 years because there they will only come on stream as the need for them rises and particularly with commercial buildings as developers see the opportunities too for people who need to work and and be in
them. Are you surprised at how quickly the whole city rebounded from the terrorist attacks. Yes Americans are very. You seem to have the ability to come back quickly and the clean up process which was originally planned to be completed on June 30th the as now been moved up to a target of May 30 first. And it even begins to look like that target may be exceeded. So things are looking better and I hope that the rapid speed of the clean up will be matched by the more rapid speed of the reconstruction which will be beginning very shortly. Thank you Mr. Whitehead. You're welcome. For New York Voices I'm Rafael pre-Roman. Thanks for joining us on our next New York Voices. We'll look at the impact of 9/11 on some younger New Yorkers. See you then. After September 11th it just changed the whole way that I view the American flag because I've always seen a kind of a
symbolizing the the governor and just the capitalism to some broad general is term but now I see it as really representing the American people. I'm one of the few of my relatives who were actually born here and I know what they went through in their country. And this is a blessing to be here. I see the flag about a hundred times a day. Everywhere you go there are cars on buildings just you know it's a part of life now and maybe should have been a part of life before now. My parents worked really hard in order to be tabooed an American and I don't take it for granted. I proved that I'm an American. New York voices made possible by the members of 13 additional funding
New York Voices
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Thirteen WNET
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Thirteen WNET (New York, New York)
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This episode of New York Voices begins with a segment entitled, "The Newest New Yorkers," and highlights voices of immigrants to New York as they become American citizens. Immigration expert Phil Kasinitz of Hunter College talks about balancing New York's vital immigration population against calls for public safety through increased scrutiny of foreigners. Debbie Almontaser, a Muslim elementary teacher, discusses coping after 9/11, her decision to open her home to neighbors, and her outreach to fellow teachers to help Arabic children in the school system overcome fear and shame about their religion and ethnicity. Katheryn Wylde of the New York Partnership describes the financial recovery assessment plan set into motion hours after 9/11. John Whitehead, head of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, discusses the plans to develop the World Trade Center site, the struggles ahead to bring the area back economically, and the plans for building a permanent memorial.
New York Voices is a news magazine made up of segments featuring profiles and interviews with New Yorkers talking about the issues affecting New York.
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Host: Pi Roman, Rafael
Producing Organization: Thirteen WNET
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Thirteen - New York Public Media (WNET)
Identifier: wnet_aacip_18903 (WNET Archive)
Format: Digital Betacam
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Duration: 00:24:46
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Chicago: “New York Voices; 202,” 2002-03-18, Thirteen WNET, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 7, 2020,
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