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September 29, 2005 3:00 AM

Illegal immigrants cut off from many post-hurricane benefits

Victor Garcia thought he was going to die when he darted out of his apartment in sandals during last months hurricane and saw refrigerators and roofs flying overhead. But what hes encountered in the weeks after Hurricane Katrina is almost as bad, he said. Unlike most Gulf Coast residents who lost all their personal property, Garcia, 37, wont be contacting the Federal Emergency Management Agency for help. No cash grants, no loans. No new shoes, no furniture for his temporary apartment, no replacing his old Honda Civic. Garcia is one of thousands of illegal immigrants who moved to Mississippi in the past 10 years to help satisfy labor demands at coastal casinos, but who dont qualify for FEMA money because theyre in the country without authorization.

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