It has recently been reported that several charities in the Houston area that round up gifts for many needy children in the area (including the Salvation Army, Outreach Program Inc., and West Houston Assistant Ministries) are going about “giving to families in need” a little different this year. In the recession that America is in at this time, giving to families in need is an admirable act but this year the organization has decided to attach a card that reads, “Immigration status, please”. But as shocking as this may sound, nothing says “Merry Christmas to you and yours”, like demanding that a needy family shows documentation that they are an actual citizen of the United States. The Houston Chronicle article states that the charity organization are requesting that some form of identification be provided, whether it’s a social security card, birth certificate, or proof of income. The identification needs to prove whether or not the family receiving the gifts is an actual U.S. citizen. If the family cannot show their status – they receive no presents. Does this seem a step away from what the true meaning of Christmas really is? That’s because it is just that.
Lorugene Young, the spokesperson for the Outreach Program Inc. states that, “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. It’s not our desire to turn anyone down. Those kids are not responsible if they are here illegally. It’s the parent’s responsibility”. Sonya Scott, who is a part of the West Houston Assistance Ministries shares the same views as Young and states, “Good stewardship and trust are reasons to check documentation so that people who donate believe the charity is doing the right thing”. But as we look deeper in to this issue, we ask ourselves, “Is this really a matter of legality and does not giving a Christmas present to a child in need constitute under the rules of “doing the right thing”? After protests broke out over the ordeal, Salvation Army stated that they will no longer check social security numbers, they will not check status at some of their locations, and their intention was never to offend anyone. Their reasoning behind the identification was to make sure families were not registering at multiple charity locations. The fact still remains, some charity organizations do require immigration status. Has our immigration system gotten so out of control as to whether we decipher which children get presents and which ones don’t?