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Families of undocumented immigrants among Orlando victims may receive 'U' visa

Honoring and remembering every one of the 49 victims of the Orlando Massacre

 

Among the many services a Latino coalition of non-profit groups offered to the families of the victims of the Orlando Massacre is assistance to those who may be undocumented immigrants.

There are currently at least three undocumented immigrants who are among the victims, two of whom are recovering in the hospital and another who was killed in the attack. 

The Hispanic Federation is leading a Hispanic coalition of non-profit organizations called Somos Orlando designed to help the particular needs of Latino victims; an overwhelming majority of the 49 victims from Sunday's attack are Hispanic. 

Zoe Colon, the Director of Florida and Southeast Operations for the Hispanic Federation, told Fox News Latino that at the heart of the problem for these particular victims’ families is fear of deportation.

"There are families that are not comfortable talking to authorities," Colon said. "There has been a lot of anti-immigrant rhetoric. It is not a safe space in people’s minds that they are OK. We have to make sure that they know that they have rights and laws that protect them if they are victims of a crime."

All three victims are Mexican, according to a report by Fusion.

Colon is coordinating Somos Orlando’s efforts to help undocumented immigrants make sure they have immigration assistance and other resources at their disposal. For instance, that undocumented victims and families could be eligible for the "U visa" - a nonimmigrant visa which is set aside for victims of serious crimes and their immediate family members.

Colon says she met two undocumented victims' families while dropping off bilingual information fliers at Hampton Inn - a temporary center for the victims in the aftermath of the attack. 

"I didn’t feel like they were in a position to advocate for themselves," Colon said, which is why they are now making a real effort to make sure all of these victims’ families know they have resources -- access to bilingual advocates, social workers, and experts who can offer cultural competent services.

While the main command center for victims has been setup in downtown Orlando, Somos Orlando has set up a service center at the Hispanic Family Counseling Center, in South Orlando, the heart of the large Puerto Rican community in Central Florida. Licensed counselors and case managers are offering help for burial services and group therapy support.

Among the many nuances professionals are dealing with, is the fact that reportedly some of the LGBT victims at the Pulse Orlando gay nightclub were not out to their families.

"We know that there is work to do," Colon said. "This tragedy also provides an opportunity to start the conversation about gender identity, and acceptance. Some folks are still questioning why were their loved ones there."

Bryan Llenas currently serves as a New York-based correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC). Click here for more information on Bryan Llenas. Follow him on Twitter @BryanLlenas.