And Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Mark 10:14. What would Jesus say about denying toys to children? Would he check for “legal” status before welcoming them into his arms?
Folks, meet the real “War on Christmas“:
Did you hear about how the Salvation Army is denying toys to children if their parents are not “legal”? Regardless of how you feel about the humanitarian crisis of our current immigration system, it is absolutely astonishing that an organization like the Salvation Army that claims to do charity is betraying the spirit of Christmas by punishing innocent kids.
I heard about this story first a couple of weeks ago on the Mike Malloy Radio Show on my drive home from work. So as soon as I got home I looked the story up online because I was livid with anger. I found that ThinkProgress had reported on it earlier on this post about what was going on in Texas. However, ThinkProgress also reported on an update that this Texan Salvation Army had reversed its policy due to the bad publicity that it had received:
The Houston Chronicle is now reporting that the charities will not be using immigration status to deny gifts to the children of undocumented immigrants. The charities explained that while they do request identification, it is only to prevent fraud and if parents could not provide such identification, they would not be turned away.
“Fair enough”, I thought, perhaps this was an isolated incident and the Salvation Army’s intentions were not truly as evil as they first appeared and the whole thing was a cultural misunderstanding. I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Oh how wrong I was!
Surprise, surprise, it turns out the Texas incident was not an isolated one but rather part of a disturbing pattern. I just got tipped off by a member of the Project Economic Refugee community to this story in Tennessee involving the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program:
If you’d like to contact the Tennessee Salvation Army to complain about this, here’s the link to several offices in that city.
Do you know if your local Salvation Army is doing the same thing? Here’s a list of contact information for several national offices.
Update: I just got the following note from a professor in Tulsa, OK:
We had a sort of similar challenge 3 years ago in the Tulsa Salvation Army. They would not give gifts to those children who were undocumented. Some parents had both, born here and undocumented. Only those who were born here could receive gifts.
It has been fixed, many Latino leaders sent letters requesting that ALL children receive gifts. It took a long time, but I am so glad it got fixed.
So, this is definitely not the first time the Salvation Army has pulled something like this.