How Immigration Status Matters in the Orlando Shooting

by Vins
Published: Updated:

Jorge Rivas and Rafa Fernandez de Castro of Fusion reported that, following the horrific Pulse Nightclub massacre on June 12, 2016 in Orlando, Florida, victims without legal status now face “a whole additional set of challenges in the wake of the horrible mass-shooting.”

Their report describes the cases of an undocumented 24-year-old Salvadorian survivor named Victor and an undocumented 33-year-old Mexican survivor named Javier (whose names have been changed to protect their identities). Each faces uncertainty of qualification for federal and state assistance programs beyond immediate emergency care, due to their illegal immigration status. After being hospitalized for gunshot wounds, each is facing overwhelming medical bills.

Both Victor and Javier worry that their legal status places them at further risk, and they fear what will happen to them if they are unable to pay the bills.

In addition to Victor and Javier, an undocumented 31-year-old Mexican man killed in the mass shooting (whose name was not published by Fusion due to his immigration status) leaves family and friends with heartache and the burdens of both repatriating his body and funeral fees. Juan Sabines, Mexico’s Consul General in Orlando, who is responsible for assisting affected families, affirmed that the Mexican Consulate will pay $3,000-plus to repatriate the body of the 31-year-old man. “It’s very expensive to send their bodies back, people aren’t prepared for that,” said Yesica Ramirez, an organizer with The Farmworker Association of Florida.

Along with these hardships, many of the victims at Pulse faced language barriers. In response websites such as assist immigrants with finding Spanish-speaking services, including attorneys and mental health professionals. Along with the Mexican Consulate and, Equality Florida, a LGBT advocacy organization, raised almost $3 million to help all victims equally, regardless of status.

Although the corporate press thoroughly covered many aspects of the Orlando mass-shooting, as of July 10, 2016, no corporate news coverage of the event appears to have addressed the particular hardships faced by victims who are undocumented and their families, as treated in Jorge Rivas and Rafa Fernandez De Castro’s report. Otherwise, these undocumented immigrants were omitted from the corporate media’s narrative of the Orlando shootings. At the time of their report, Rivas and Fernandez De Castro noted that, of the 100-plus victims who were injured and killed, it was unknown if additional victims were undocumented.


Jorge Rivas and Rafa Fernandez De Castro, “Undocumented Victims of Orlando Shooting Face Unique Challenges and Fears,” Fusion, June 14, 2016,

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