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Toys for tots with valid ID

This is what you call bad holiday publicity.

The Salvation Army and a charity affiliated with the Houston Fire Department are among those that consider immigration status, asking for birth certificates or Social Security cards for the children.

The point isn’t to punish the children but to ensure that their parents are either citizens, legal immigrants or working to become legal residents, said Lorugene Young, whose Outreach Program Inc. is one of three groups that distribute toys collected by firefighters.

“It’s not our desire to turn anyone down,” she said. “Those kids are not responsible if they are here illegally. It is the parents’ responsibility.”

The idea of a charity turning away children because of decisions made by their parents unsettled some immigration activists.

“It is very disturbing to think a holiday like Christmas would be tainted with things like this,” said Cesar Espinoza, executive director of America for All, a Houston-based advocacy group. “Usually, people target the adults because the adults made the decision to migrate, where the children are just brought through no fault of their own.”

Other groups don’t require specific documentation, relying instead on outside groups to recommend families.

“When you distribute toys to 10,000 to 12,000 kids, it’s impossible to background (check) every child,” said Fred Joe Pyland, a Houston police officer who oversees the Blue Santa program. Blue Santa doesn’t consider immigration status but collects names from police officers, schools and churches.

I think Blue Santa’s got the right idea here. I get that you don’t want to give from your limited stash to kids who aren’t poor, or to kids who don’t actually exist, and the way to do that is to get some kind of verification. But this is one of those situations where I think I’d trade a bit of security for a lot more openness. You can say you don’t mean to discriminate against anyone, but I don’t find that very convincing. I’m sure the Salvation Army would rather be touting its new donation mechanisms instead of dealing with this; I hope it serves as impetus for them to change their ways. Stace has more, and click on for a couple of reactions to this story. Thanks to Marc Campos for the link.


Press release from State Rep. Carol Alvarado:

State Representative Carol Alvarado was disturbed to hear that the Salvation Army, along with other area charities, are going to require proof of legal immigration status prior to giving toys to needy children this holiday season.

“The holidays are a time for giving — not a time to discriminate. It is not right to punish innocent children for decisions made by their parents,” said Representative Alvarado. “I believe that the majority of the people who are donating money or gifts to needy children would not want organizations like the Salvation Army to discriminate against disadvantaged children who deserve to experience the joy of Christmas.”

Representative Alvarado wants to encourage everyone to give what they can this season and to continue to help those most in need by donating to organizations that do not discriminate against needy children.

Email from Dale Wortham of the AFL-CIO to Carl Whitmarsh:

I am AGHAST at the reports that the ” Salvation” army is asking for social security numbers before giving CHILDREN toys for Christmas. First of all, people give to the red bucket bell ringers in the hopes that the money goes to families that may not be able to provide for their own. Kids do not get to pick their parents, or where their parents take them. So what if they are not citizens! Who cares! They are CHILDREN!

I feel that ALL kid’s deserve a Merry Christmas. I will not give one penny to the “Redneck Bell Ringing Bigots” ever again ! Please give to some other charity that does not base the benefit of our dollars based upon the nationality of the parent. Our country was based on giving and acceptance for all who sought to better themselves. The children of those seeking a better life have no say in the matter. BOYCOTT the “SALVATION ARMY” this Christmas! Give your money to those who give in the spirit Christmas, regardless of national orgin! I guess the “Savation Army” has gone to the far right and forgot the one’s who need it the most.

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8 Comments

  1. Noel says:

    I don’t give to the Salvation Army for a variety of reasons, and this is just one more reason not to. Children should not be punished for something they have no control over.

    Call Catholic Charities and adopt a family, support Blue Santa or give to charities that don’t over-administrate or discriminate in their programs.

  2. Baby Snooks says:

    No offense but you know it should be “citizens first” and it’s not and Catholic Charities should just “adopt” them all and take care of them.

    There are limited funds for rent and utilities and food and there IS something wrong when citizens and legal residents are told they cannot be helped because non-citizens and people who are here illegally had to be helped first. Sorry. That is the way a growing number of people feel. Democrats and Republicans. Particularly those who have hit rough spots and need help and find there is none.

    Everyone needs to go back to the warning of Barbara Jordan in 1996 which echoed the warning of Ronald Reagan. What they both warned about has happened. We are all being displaced. Each and every one of us.

    And do not tell me I’m a racist or xenophobe. I gave over ten years of my time to the Hispanic community in this city and some of them are just as fed up with it as everyone else. Particularly the pandering of the politicians who hope they will somehow manage to get everyone “fast-tracked” and registered to vote and will “return the favor.”

    Barbara Jordan is turning in her grave along with Ronald Reagan.

  3. Luna says:

    Baby Snooks, you ARE a racist and a xenophobe. Christmas is a Christian holiday, and I’m sure God loves all of his children equally. To Him, no one is “illegal” No Christian thinks some of God’s children are unworthy, or has an “Us vs Them” mentality

  4. Sergio Davila says:

    This Baby Snooks idiot now thinks he can even speak on behalf of Hispanics by inserting a ridiculous comment like …”and some of them are just as fed up with it as everyone else.”

    Hey fool, next time you get your food served at a restaurant, lawn cut, home built, roads worked on, etc., make sure citizens do it. If not, then you are a hypocritical racist.

  5. Baby Snooks says:

    For every illegal immigrant who comes to this country from Mexico, there are probably ten who are plunged into further poverty in Mexico. That is Mexico’s solution to poverty. Export it. I see that side. You don’t. I care about them. You don’t. And the Catholic Church obviously doesn’t.

    If you read what I posted I didn’t say children should be denied toys but the point is their parents are here illegally. And if you want to call me a racist and xenophobe then you will have to call Barbara Jordan a racist and xenophobe as well because I and others have not said anything she did not say in 1996.

  6. [...] to see it. A statement from State Rep. Carol Alvarado, who had been critical of the previous policy, is beneath the fold. Stace has [...]

  7. Sean says:

    Ronald Regan thats your role model for the poor – he cut funding to every outfit that helped the poor, heck he cut school kids lunches down to the bone while giving tax cuts to the rich. I don’t see why your hate for the Catholic Church because they dont ask for papers. Jesus said what you do for the least of my brother you do for me. I am for immigration reform, but telling a kid at Christmas no gifts for you, I dont think so.

  8. TY says:

    How will I be able to get Christmas toys for my 7year old son

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