Immigration and the Salvation Army's War on Christmas

Folks, meet the realWar 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:

Nashville charities reject immigrants’ kids

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


the first time the Salvation Army has pulled something like this.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.