Talk about the “Christmas spirit.” In Houston the Salvation Army wants proof of legal U.S. residency before giving out Xmas presents to needy kids.
In a year when more families than ever have asked for help, several programs providing Christmas gifts for needy children require at least one member of the household to be a U.S. citizen. Others ask for proof of income or rely on churches and schools to suggest recipients. 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.”
Just when you think that the cruelty of some Christian groups cannot be topped…..
[T]he Salvation Army, which asks for a Social Security number when registering children for its gift program, said it does so only to deter fraud. Flanagan and Salvation Army spokesman Juan Alanis spoke up Tuesday after a story in the Chronicle noted that both groups require birth certificates, Social Security numbers or other documents indicating immigration status. They said it’s not their intent to discriminate. Alanis acknowledged that families cannot register for the Angel Tree program, which allows children to request specific gifts, unless one member of the family can present a Social Security number. “It is not because we seek to discriminate. The Salvation Army is not in the business of verifying legal status,” he said. “We have to be good stewards. If we let people register without checking, that could be abused.” Alanis said the agency uses Social Security numbers, rather than some other type of identifier, because “that’s just the way we’ve found to verify it at this point. If other agencies do something different, we’d be interested in finding that out.”
How is that a “correction,” exactly?