My Community Identification Card from Angels for Action

Some people in our city hurl accusations at Angels for Action and their community identification card program without taking a first hand look at the program themselves.

According to Mayor Adrian Mapp, part of his reasoning for shutting down Angels for Action involved a group of residents expressing to him that they wanted to retrieve the documents from Angels for Action, who could use them in an “inappropriate manner.”

This weekend, I visited Angels for Action to shoot parts of Lost in the Wilderness as well as talk to Director Carmen Salavarrieta about identification cards. I witnessed several people go through the entire process to obtain an ID.

The truth is, Angels for Action doesn’t take or copy anyone’s documents. The only records that are kept by the organization are the person’s country of origin and how long they have lived in the United States.

If anyone indeed approached the new Mayor, those individuals must have been misinformed – which would not be a surprise with all of the misinformation and fear mongering propagated by some.

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My passport and driver license

While I am serious about protecting my own identity, I am so sure about the security of their operation that today I decided to give my own passport and proof of address (driver license) to have an identification made. To be clear, none of my documents were kept or copied.

Angels for Action retained very little of my information, none of which is particularly private, or at all manipulatable. The same is true for all who apply for an identification card.


You might be surprised by the quality of the card, whose only emblem is the Angels for Action logo. What Mr. Mapp called a “worthless piece of paper” isn’t paper at all. It’s similar in quality to my driver license and even contains a security hologram.

I guess you don’t know if you don’t go.

It is said that card programs like this one in Plainfield, a similar program in Mercer County, and others around the country do better when people who are not undocumented use the cards, too. I plan on using my Community Identification Card where possible in the City of Plainfield, and I’ll even tell you how I fare.

For a host of reasons, these cards are far more useful for undocumented immigrants than they could ever be for me. We’ll have much more on that soon, including the interview with Carmen Salavarrieta.

6 thoughts on “My Community Identification Card from Angels for Action

  1. I’m so-o Proud of you !! and more importantly I know you are proud of yourself!! Hang in Rita keep making and taking the time R B G

  2. One difference I see is the cards no longer claim the program is endorsed by the police department. All other rhetoric about the cards’ usefulness aside, this assertion was simply not true. As to the security issues and personal information, the Target Stores credit card fiasco, and the debit card-taxi scanner problem in Chicago that was reported in yesterday’s NY Times, show that security only goes so far. Years ago, financial information pertaining to my mortgage was stolen by a bank employee, who then sold the info to others who opened up four credit card accounts, using an East Orange address. Are Angels in Action employees bonded, or does it have some sort of insurance in case something goes awry? I don’t want to be negative about their program, but one employee with a robust memory might be all it takes to cause major problems. Of course the less useful the cards are, the less risk there is that a breach would occur.

    • The key is – personal information is never collected in the first place. You fill out a form, which you keep, and they only keep your country of origin and how long you’ve been in the country. Your passport is not copied. They do not have your information.

      The only information that they put on the card is your address, height, weight, and hair and eye color. Even this is not kept in their records. Even if it was, it’s hardly information that could be manipulated, like a passport or drivers license number, etc could, potentially.

      That’s what I mean when I say that no information is kept. Additionally, this program was apparently vetted by corporation council and the police department a year ago. I’ll have more on that in the next piece.

    • As for someone with a robust, photographic memory, every time we go to the gas station we take a much greater risk in showing our license plate number and then handing our credit card to the attendant who goes into their office. That’s one example but there are plenty in our daily lives.

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