On May 10th Camden Councilman Angel Fuentes introduced an ordinance to City Council to create a City Resident Identification Program. This program aims to help city residents that are not able to obtain a government ID.
The most vulnerable people in our community would benefit from this program, such as the elderly, formerly incarcerated individuals, undocumented immigrants, the disabled and the homeless.
Undocumented immigrants would be able to show an ID that is not in a foreign language and that the police can understand. They would be able to report crimes without the fear of being detained, reported to immigration authorities and deported.
As a long time South Jersey resident I know many people that would benefit from having an ID card. Eligible residents would be able to apply for public benefits, open a bank account and register to vote. Others would be able to get library cards, register their children for school or simply pick up a package at the post office.
Other cities in New Jersey have already approved and implemented this kind of program such as Newark, Perth Amboy and Rosell. A few other cities are also considering IDs for residents.
The ID cards will feature a photo, date of birth and address of the resident. The IDs are only valid for identification and would not be valid for driving or boarding a plane. As an incentive for all residents to obtain the ID, the City would partner with different businesses, the Aquarium and other local venues for discounts for people who show proof of residency in Camden.
A working group composed of residents; city advocates and nonprofit organizations are closely working with Councilman Fuentes to make sure the program has all the necessary tools for implementation to incorporate more residents of the city’s diverse community into Camden’s activities and civic life.
On June 14th the City Council will vote on this ordinance and I hope it is passed for the welfare of many Camden residents and good friends I have in that city. They all deserve to feel safe and that they belong to the city they live in.
Zoraida Ossa lives in South Jersey where she is a leader in the Driving Without Fear Campaign advocating for all residents of NJ to have a chance to obtain a driver’s license. She also works with Media Mobilizing Project in Philadelphia.