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.