There is a chill sweeping over the nation and I’m not talking about the latest Arctic Blast. Cold cold cold is the only real way to describe the 26 governors who say they will refuse to accept any Syrian refugees. Said President Obama, “Apparently, they’re scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America as part of our tradition of compassion.” Yet some might ask, “what tradition?” especially when compared to the traditions of other Western countries like, say, France. Yesterday:
French President Francois Hollande promised that "30,000 refugees will be welcomed over the next two years," adding that France has a "humanitarian duty" to help those fleeing Syria. He said added security measures "will ensure the security of France while staying true to our values."
Refugees are put through an expansive vetting process, one that takes 18 to 24 months. It starts with a thorough review by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and then is followed by another full investigation by the U.S. government. Most applicants are women and children, and they go through multiple interviews and the collection of biometric data. Their work lives and personal histories are reviewed against 45 "categories of concern."…
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, told The Associated Press in a statement that "refugees go through the highest level of security screening of any category of traveler to the United States." Does that mean no bad people get through? No, it just means that if you're trying to send a bad person through, this is the worst way to go.
But I digress because today’s post is not actually about widows and orphans from Syria. It’s about our shameful treatment of the all-but-forgotten men and women who selflessly helped our nation following the worst terrorist attack on the United States. Like Diane DiGiacomo, a “52-year-old single mother [and ex-ASPCA worker who] spent three months near the shadow of the smoldering footprints of the World Trade Center saving dogs and cats left behind in nearby apartments.” She is now dying of a 9/11-related cancer, “that has spread to her brain and bones. She weighs 60 pounds and is largely confined to a bed.”
Incredibly, according to the New York Daily News, on Monday, Judge Marc Grodsky “shockingly denied” her a workers’ compensation claim finding that she “did not suffer from an ‘occupational disease’ because the exposure did not ‘derive from the very nature’ of her work as an animal rescuer.” Huh?
DiGiacomo’s lawyer Sean Riordan blasted the judge’s legal tongue-twisting.
“Diane’s work and the nature of the work required her to respond to emergencies at the behest of her employer,” Riordan said. “It is the nature of her employment to respond to emergencies and save and rescue animals. The judge’s finding to the contrary is outrageous and a stretch.”
“Other than maybe firefighters,” he added, “nobody else’s job would meet the definition of an occupational disease claim according to Judge Grodsky.”
Adding insult to agony, Grodsky conceded that had DiGiacomo filed her paperwork before the Sept. 11, 2014 deadline, she would have been protected.
DiGiacomo had a good excuse for filing late: She didn’t receive her cancer diagnosis until the following month. “It didn’t relate to her because she wasn’t sick,” Riordan said.
DiGiacomo is appealing the ruling. If her appeal is denied, her only hope for receiving the full value of her claim lies with Congress.
That would be the same Congress that has stopped everything so it can vote to, as one of our friends put it, “trap refugees (including women and children) in their war torn country where they should just learn to fight back or die trying or die hiding or just die because we don't want them here.” And the same Congress that has told 9/11 rescue workers to essentially just shut up and die too, failing “to extend the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, putting thousands of [9/11] first responders in jeopardy of losing compensation and access to treatment.” (See our latest coverage here.)
DiGiacomo’s lawyer said her case should serve as a warning to lawmakers holding up passage of the Zadroga bill. “If the New York State workers’ compensation board is going to fail first-responders in the way it has failed Diane DiGiacomo, it is even more important the Zadroga bill is re-enacted,” Riordan said.
It should help. But that assumes there’s any tradition of compassion left among certain political leaders in America.