A couple of weeks ago Negros Americanos sat down with community activist Carmen Salvarrieta at her nonprofit Angels for Action. She is one of the most exemplary individuals that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. The way she fights for her people is awe-inspiring! To think that all this time we lived in the same community, and I never knew her. She fights hard for undocumented and documented immigrants to have simple human rights. Rights that until we sat down and talked to her, I didn’t even know were being violated at this rate in my own community of Plainfield, NJ. We are talking about sexual abuse from employers, assaults rape and murder of undocumented immigrants here with absolutely no repercussions. Until Carmen gets involved, that is. This woman is like a Lion, she is the person you want fighting for you.
“In many of those cases Latino immigrants were targeted by robbers not out of hatred, but because they are more likely to carry large amounts of cash. Many undocumented immigrants do not open bank accounts and prefer to be paid in cash to avoid government scrutiny.”-Plainfield Police Director Martin Hellwig
We actually met Carmen because we were looking for a statistical expert to talk about the Latino community for the Negros Americanos “Lost In The Wilderness” Documentary. We were sent by my Tia Ingrid to speak with her, and we wanted to talk about Black and Latino relationships in Plainfield NJ. As a Substitute Teacher in this district, I even hear some of the students talk about “Papi Hunting”, and I am just left in shock by the complete disregard for human life and worth. I googled the term Papi Hunting after hearing the kids talk about it, and Plainfield came up first, which shows me that this act (with the name Papi-hunting) is a regional phenomenon, and one that Negros Americanos had to be a part of stopping!
The ID program that Angels for Action has started was an answer to the problem that many undocumenteds face-having to carry around their passports. Now I have been an undocumented immigrant in another country, but my American Passport gives me privilege. Coming from a poorer Latin American country to a mixed North American city filled with racial tension and senseless violence, many undocumented immigrants found themselves in a tough predatory situation where they can’t open a bank account for lack of a second ID. To start a program where undocumented Latinos can get their own idea cards, so they don’t have to lug around their Passports and risk getting robbed for their complete identity seems like a great idea right???? who would be against i? Well only the good old Mayor of Plainfield NJ Adrian Mapp. Now the old Mayor was great in my book!!!! she knew what time it was and she accepted the program, it was running and functional. But January gets here and this guy gets inaugurated, and starts changing things around. He cut the program, and started to make bogus allegations about Angels for Action stealing people’s money and passports and giving false hope to people with the ID cards. Thats BULLSHIT! The program has been back up and running for a few weeks now and trust me I am a 3rd party spectator in this, but guess what! Negros Americanos gets down and dirty, we know many undocumented workers and just real people in the city. Everyone LOVES Carmen! She charges 10 dollars for the cards, yes. But that is for Machine maitenence, and she is not taking anyone’s Passports!!!! I saw the process happen for several people, and I actually went ahead and got myself an ID card too, why not!
Carmen is who the police call when someone gets murdered or ran over in the street. She has to take photos of the body and show to all of the immigrant community until they are recognized. With the cards she wont have to see so much death. She is the one they go to when some one dies to find the money to ship their bodies back to the country. She is the one that people go to when they get assaulted and have broken bones. They have no medical care, she finds ways for them to get treatment. She is who they go to when someone gets deported and their children are left alone in the city. No one can say anything about this woman! She is a Lion!