Salvation Army: we check ID to prevent fraud, not to catch illegal immigrants

Discuss

66 Responses to “Salvation Army: we check ID to prevent fraud, not to catch illegal immigrants”

  1. Blue says:

    Um, yeah. To echo a couple of the comments above, I think there needs to be an appology along with the correction. C’mon, Cory, dude.

  2. JamesMason says:

    Just a quick comment that the Salvation Army consistently ranks at or near the top of charitable organizations that have the LOWEST overhead – meaning that MORE of your donation actually goes to people in need as opposed to advertising, salaries, etc.

    However they are a Christian organization, so there is some baggage that comes along with that.

    Overall, I am glad to see that BB reported on some possible issues regarding their work and then went to the effort to correct it with a follow-up. Good work!

    • Xopher says:

      Just a quick comment that the Salvation Army consistently ranks at or near the top of charitable organizations that have the LOWEST overhead – meaning that MORE of your donation actually goes to people in need as opposed to advertising, salaries, etc.

      Overhead isn’t actually a good test of a charity’s efficacy. A big charity needs a certain amoung of staff to make sure their donations are going where they’re actually needed, rather than just being wasted. Very high overhead is a bad sign, but so is extremely low overhead.

      There are other metrics for measuring charities’ efficacy. Overhead is convenient, and makes a good sound bite, but it’s actually not a very good one.

  3. mechko says:

    You know why I hate SA? Because I was at the mall on Black Friday and all day they were ringing bells. The only way to make them stop was to give them money. That’s blackmail.

  4. Baldhead says:

    Having worked in tourism, I’d have to say that at least as far as guests go, Spanish speaking (specifically, from the Americas- Spaniards have a distinctly different accent)are second only to Americans in their unwillingness to learn even a few phrases in other languages. And they get angry if you can’t speak their language. Most of the rest of us get embarrassed about it.

  5. armreyn says:

    what a scam! they get things for free, make drug addicts work for them for free, and register their buildings as religious so they dont have to pay taxes! i know what im talking about!

  6. WorkingDead says:

    My home was destroyed during Hurricane Ike. For several weeks, the Salvation Army was only place I could consistency get a hot meal or something to drink. FEMA was no help, the Red Cross only helps you if you are already in the process of dieing, and most of the churches in the area were only worried about their own roofs. I am very grateful for the help I received from the Houston area Salvation Army. No ID or explanation of any kind was ever required from me.

  7. The Opoponax says:

    Re language accommodations in NYC, whoever said Spanish is the only one they ever encounter isn’t very observant. Most ATMs offer at least French and Chinese in addition to Spanish, if not additional languages. City services and polling places are required to offer services in at least 5 or 6 languages (Spanish, French, Chinese, Korean, and Russian IIRC) besides English. Bilingual private signage varies depending on the neighborhood, and if you leave the upper middle class white enclaves you will CERTAINLY come across situations where nobody around you speaks anything but Russian, Korean, Bengali, Polish, etc.

    The reason you see so much Spanish out and about in NYC is simply that it’s the largest non-English speaking group. Mainly because Spanish is the language of not only Mexicans (which, btw, are not an especially large immigrant group in NYC) but Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, and people from various Central and South American countries and Caribbean islands.

  8. grimc says:

    Further update: SA changes policy

    I can give the SA the benefit of the doubt–that their requirement for SSN’s or birth certificates was an effort to prevent fraud.

    The people who said that kids of undocumented immigrants don’t deserve toys? Little to no doubt what their deal is.

    • Gloria says:

      I just looked that up too. The Houston Chronicle is also carrying the story:

      http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/6751340.html

      To the SA’s credit:

      “The organization said that in most cases, when people had no Social Security numbers, they still received help. Other valid forms of identification include school registration, Medicaid cards, Consular cards, food stamps cards and birth certificates, the organization said.”

      However, I’m unsure whether this really changes things — is it possible to acquire any of these documents unless you have proof of legal residency?

      The sad thing is, though, there are people declaring that they will be refusing to donate to the SA now that they believe the SA is helping illegal immigrants. One person said they will be “picking [their] charities carefully.” Yes, good luck finding a charity that discriminates against its recipients. I don’t think your money will be going very far.

      • Anonymous says:

        “is it possible to acquire any of these documents unless you have proof of legal residency?”

        Consular Cards are issued by the Mexican government and are widely carried by Mexican immigrants in Texas. Many parents would also be able to supply their children’s birth certificates and/or school registration.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I’m an American Red Cross Disaster Action Team leader, have been since before meeting Cory at a Torcon panel on DRM and e-books. Spent mucho time out at oh-dark-thirty helping folks just burnt out, smoked out, drowned out or mudslid out of their homes.

    We do ask for ID but don’t use SSN for identity. if folks don’t have what we ask for, we use alternate means, which I won’t get into here, but would be glad to explain to Cory.

    We provide aid _regardless_ of nation and citizenship, without regard for race, creed, color, national origin, gender, orientation, biology or shoe size. Heck, even if Bill Gates got burnt out, he’d get a blanket, a Comfort Kit, meals, lodging and what everyone else gets. Same for Kif, Morbo, Jabba the Hutt, or any other ET.

    Doubt it? Volunteer for your local chapter and see how it’s done. Whatever your faith, gender, orientation, et cetera, you are welcome to help.

    • Xopher says:

      Did anyone doubt that the Red Cross does this? I didn’t. But it does show that it can be done, and that the SA’s claiming they have to use the SSN to prevent fraud won’t fly.

  10. octopod says:

    lol, if you’d bothered to do any basic fact checking you’d have found the links posted in the previous thread. duh.

  11. Kibble says:

    If the SA requires SSN, how would the child of an illegal immigrant get a toy?

  12. Kibble says:

    Also, a comment. Regardless of what the SA does, and what its actual intentions are, I have read countless comments, in countless forums, saying, “Right on! Let ‘em go back to where they belong if they want a toy. I’m all for human rights and so on, but I don’t want anything I donate to go to any illegals.”

    Many of these people probably also complain about the “war on Christmas.”

  13. Anonymous says:

    these creeps put up a sign on my street announcing Jesus as the only salvation from an eternity in hell. They can go there themselves as far as I care

  14. The Constitution says:

    It is irresponsible to encourage people to immigrate illegally, by enticing them with services through government mandate or charity that merely perpetuate an economically unviable existence because they are illegal. When considering the need of those who possess the full potential to explore opportunities of success granted by citizenship for charitable assistance is in direct competition to illegal immigrants who do not possess this right, it is clear that illegal immigration hurts the citizen. There is little difference between an individual trying to scam charity under false guise of destitution and someone who is under a hardship because they are legally incapable of expounding on their potential, because that constraint is willingly assumed by an individual who immigrates illegally. Both offenses are willing assaults against the general welfare.

    • Brainspore says:

      It is irresponsible to encourage people to immigrate illegally, by enticing them with services through government mandate or charity that merely perpetuate an economically unviable existence because they are illegal.

      Because so many people sneak across the border just to get their kids a free teddy bear?

  15. mgfarrelly says:

    I volunteered with a network of food pantries last year and, sadly, there are people run all sorts of scams. There are parents who sign their kids up for dozens of gift programs and then end up selling the toys off. There was at least one mom who tried to pull this game on our organization. That was the most awkward and horrible conversation I ever saw a volunteer coordinator have with someone who, ostensibly, they were there to help.

    They are pretty rare though, thankfully instances of that kind of sheer ugly villainy aren’t too rampant. Bleh, the whole situation is just creeptastic.

  16. Anonymous says:

    It doesn’t matter whether they had good intentions or not, the policy will still discriminate against illegal immigrants who simply won’t be able to produce such documents. I understand fraud is a big problem in the world (I’m on the Internet, aren’t I?) but to turn a blind eye to the consequences of your policies to a large class of people who could benefit from your programs is irresponsible at best and outright racist at the worst.

    Jim Crow laws anyone?

  17. mechko says:

    The solution is simple. Centralize the registry for disbursement and require whatever ID is available and a physical address. Use the address to verify those individuals who can’t provide an otherwise verifiable form of identification. Having all the physical addresses, even of those who do have an SSN makes it pretty certain that you don’t get duplicate registries, and gives another method of verifying that people don’t register at multiple centers.

    Also, while you could potentially scam the system, for the amount you could scam for, it’s far too much effort.

    Doesn’t help in dealing with homeless people, but I’m sure there is a method of dealing with them too (like only providing them from specific far apart nodes so that each can only apply at one node. This would reduce abuse to the level at which it is currently possible.)

    Just a suggestion.

  18. futbol789 says:

    “Line up for your charity here. But mind your papers please, you might be a baddie.”

    I get the desire to protect against scammers, but if you are a charity, what do you care? Because, it seems like this will hurt more people than it’s worth. My wife lost her birth certificate in a huricane. You have to pay to get a new copy. Which is probably not high on the budget list of your person seeking help from a pick an angel tree.

    I seem to remember a story where this org turned down a five, or one (I can’t recall exactly), Million dollar donation because the money came from gambling. They seem to take a lot of stands that could, if one didn’t know better, lead to the impression that they they only want to help American born teetotaler Christians. I’m glad they tookthe time to clarify the now obvious misunderstanding.

    But seriously, you shows us your papers or aints get no charity, see?

  19. Anonymous says:

    But yet if it were published that someone were signing up fictitious kids for giveaway programs and then ebaying the toys, you guys would be all breathless and pissed off because nobody tried to verify anything. There’s simply no way to win…damned if you do, and damned if you don’t

    Tell you what — all you who think you can do it better, there’s plenty of people who need help — go knock yourselves out. (I am in no way connected to any charity, by the way.)

    There are some pretty savvy people out there in BoingBoing land — if someone has a low-cost, highly-effective idea of solving this problem — please contact your local charity — I’m pretty certain they’d like to have all the help you could offer, particularly on a sticky issue like this.

  20. alisong76 says:

    I get the desire to protect against scammers, but if you are a charity, what do you care?

    …because if someone does scam them, then someone else could miss out?

  21. Jewels Vern says:

    I read the bible once. It says to give. If you make people earn it somehow, that is not giving. If you demand approval of their use of it, that’s not giving.

    Churches are supposed to teach this stuff. They really ought to try to keep their own behaviors straight.

  22. Anonymous says:

    This may be true, but isn’t it also true that a child born on American soil is an American citizen? … That child would have an SSN, even if their parents didn’t, right?

  23. 'berto says:

    I fail to see how this changes anything. From the follow-up in the Houston Chronicle we read:

    “… 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.”

    and

    “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.”

    In short, the Salvation Army DOES ask for Social Security numbers to register for its “Angel Tree program” — it’s just that they maintain that the rationale for this is to prevent “abuse” rather than to weed out illegal immigrants. Well, they can dance as many angels as they want on the head of THAT pin, but the end result is the same: illegal immigrants are ineligible for the “Angel Tree program”.

    Also, please allow me to *snort* in derision over the phrases, “They said it’s not their intent to discriminate.” and “It is not because we seek to discriminate.” The Salvation Army’s past history illustrates that it is only too happy to discriminate. As I commented on the first thread:

    The Salvation Army has quite the spotty history. (follow the links)

    1) 2003: It’s anti-union (privatized seniors’ housing) — http://www.rabble.ca/news/sunset-sally-ann Also from that same link: “Sally Ann is the largest social service network in Canada, after the Canadian government. [...] The Salvation Army is a multinational organization. Its Canada-Bermuda division alone owns $1.13 billion in assets, $400 million in investments and $237 million in revenues exceeding its spending by $18 million. Sally Ann even opened on the Nasdaq last summer — pictures and all — hardly the activity expected of a charity crying for cash.”

    2) 2004: It’s homophobic (tried to blackmail NYC using homeless, just as the Roman Catholic Church recently tried to do in DC) — http://www.chicagopride.com/news/article.cfm/ArticleID/1824489

    3) 2008: It’s transphobic (turned a transgendered homeless woman away from a SA shelter; the woman died later that night) — http://www.pamshouseblend.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=8691

    … and now this. Well, now y’all have *lots* of reasons to boycott them.

    So excuuuuuse me if I cast a jaundiced eye on the claims by the Salvation Army’s PR Department that this money-making multinational corporate “charity” does not “discriminate”. It most certainly DOES.

  24. The Chemist says:

    Am I the only one who’s just a little disturbed by the implications in of the “We print in both English and Spanish…” part of the article?

    I understand that a good proportion, I daresay most, illegal immigrants are from Spanish speaking countries. Still, there is a proportion of citizenry that might appreciate the Spanish parts of the flyers and of course there is a set of illegal immigrants from non-Spanish speaking countries.

    I’m not saying that this necessarily say anything about the SA specifically more than society in general, I’m just pointing out how casually we make problematic mental shortcuts, even in major press releases.

    • dequeued says:

      I spend all day around immigrants from all over the world, legal and not.

      Spanish speakers are, for whatever reason, the only ones that need special accommodations.

      The Chinese woman who works at the take-out place speaks fluent Spanish (She also raises two kids while she works)
      The Polish chick who works at the bakery next to it also learned Spanish.
      The Russians who run the dinner on the corner speak Spanish.

      It probably has to do with poverty or cultural decay, but the majority of Spanish speaking people around here (NYC), and, I presume, everywhere else, cannot or will not learn English, or any other language.

      It’s interesting to see the contrast between Mexican immigrants and other immigrants.

      • Anonymous says:

        I notice you said you “spend your day around” them and not that you work with them or actually know any of them. I work for an organization where hundreds of Spanish-speaking immigrants (not all of them from Mexico, by the way) spend up to 10 hours per week outside of work and family commitments to study English. Very few are even fully literate in their own language, which makes mastery of English as an adult very difficult indeed. If you know the cucumstances through which your anecdotal English-speaking immigrant learned the language, perhaps you coul share it with us and make my job easier. Otherwise, perhaps go light on the generalizations.

        Your observation, while perhaps benignly intentioned, reeks of ignorance.

      • Gloria says:

        Come to Toronto. We have all kinds of people, beyond Spanish, that require special accommodations when it comes to language. We offer most public documents in English and French, but when I went to elementary school, they’d provide at least another half dozen languages if requested.

      • The Chemist says:

        Maybe it’s because Spanish is part of the linguistic heritage of North America, while Chinese, Russian, and Polish are not.

      • Anonymous says:

        Maybe because spanish immigrants take all the abuse all the dirty work that most of us wouldn’t do, some mexicans work extra hours and don’t get pay for them get real think what will happen if all of them go back who will do the cheap labor? and I think is disturbing that organizations like Salvation Army ask for proof of Citizenship to give a gift that most of us including myself donate to them.

  25. SeattleGuy says:

    They can wrap their petty little words in whatever high ‘moral’ justification they want, but it’s still nasty discrimination….of children…at Christmas time…in America…They should be ashamed. I’m ashamed for them and will actually go out of my way to find another charity to benefit from that small amount I can afford this year.

  26. Pinkhair says:

    Individual Taxpayer ID Numbers are available regardless of immigration status.

  27. Anonymous says:

    They’re still para-military homophobic creeps though. :-)

  28. dequeued says:

    Just because someone is the child of an illegal immigrant doesn’t mean that they should be punished!

    That said, I do actually believe that the Salvation army has to protect against scammers.

    I used to live in the bubble of upper-middle class America, but, in the rest of the world, people suck.

    For every salvation army, there is some person who, without a hint of shame, will take a minivan and clean out all of their toys.
    THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS

  29. Brainspore says:

    I understand the desire to avoid bad people taking advantage of a charity, but this still feels kind of like testing people’s blood sugar at a soup kitchen to make sure they’re really hungry.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Are we all forgetting something? The law says nobody can require you to reveal your social security number except the government. The Salvation Army has consciously chosen to invade people’s protected rights for the same reason everyone else asks for your ssn – it’s easier than doing real work to establish a neutral identifier.

    And, to another poster, YES the Salvation Army IS a Christian group and does test the source of large donations. If it violates their “Christian” ethos, they turn it down. And yes, they are anti-sin.

  31. adamnvillani says:

    It probably has to do with poverty or cultural decay, but the majority of Spanish speaking people around here (NYC), and, I presume, everywhere else, cannot or will not learn English, or any other language.

    How much wrong can you pack into a single post?

    First off, I live in L.A., not New York, so I can’t speak for NYC, except that my wife’s Chinese grandparents, who live in New York, never learned English and are able to find plenty of services in their language.

    But speaking more generally, here in Southern California, I’ve seen election materials in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Khmer. I think Russian, too. I bank with Chase, and their ATMs always offer English, Spanish, Chinese, and Russian. I work for a local government, and at the public counter we sometimes conduct business in Spanish, Chinese, or Korean. I’ve attended Catholic churches who hold Mass in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Samoan, Mandarin, Korean, and Tagalog.

    It’s true that many immigrants who come to this country as adults don’t learn English, or don’t learn it very well. That’s true regardless of where they come from (well, depending on how much English is spoken in their native country). But their children, almost to a T, all learn English. I’ve lived among many different immigrant communities in my 35 years in Los Angeles, and I have never met a single person who spent more than a year in K-12 school here and didn’t speak English fine. Some may be more comfortable in their parents’ language, but that’s not the same thing as not learning English.

    You’re probably just noticing Spanish because that’s the home language for many of the people in New York, which has been a center for immigration for centuries. Puerto Ricans, incidentally, are U.S. citizens, not immigrants. And because there are so many Spanish speakers in New York, just as there are here in Los Angeles, there is a significant amount of infrastructure in Spanish to serve the immigrant community and others who speak Spanish. It makes more sense for a Polish immigrant in NYC to learn Spanish than it would for a Dominican immigrant in NYC to learn Polish simply because the latter would be of very limited utility.

    Let me tell you about the case of the guy who cleans up my office here at City Hall. He was born in Oaxaca, Mexico, and his first language was Zapotec, the Native American language in his area. He didn’t learn Spanish until he started going to school. He came to the US as an adult, and his English isn’t perfect, but he can hold a perfectly good conversation. His kids speak both English and Spanish fluently. In addition to being a janitor, he also works in a restaurant and owns several rental properties, which he maintains. He also owns a house back in Oaxaca where he plans to retire.

  32. verkisto says:

    Kudos to you, Cory, for posting the follow-up/correction. It’s good to know that BB is still in the business of accurate news, not sensationalism.

  33. Anonymous says:

    I for, one, am happy to hear they don’t descriminate against illegal immigrants, they merely require presentation of an SSN, which most illegal immigrants don’t have. Q’uell difference!

    I face similar unfounded accusations at my business with regards to hiring. They say I descriminate against orthodox jews, just because the job application window is drive through only open 10am-4pm on Saturdays. Ridiculous!

    Thank you, Salvation Army.

  34. phisrow says:

    Unfortunately, their “haterade for the homos” policy is still in full effect.

    • 'berto says:

      “Unfortunately, their “haterade for the homos” policy is still in full effect.”

      No kidding. They still demonstrate, through their actions and words, that they hate me, and are my enemy.

      • quarter says:

        Actually they show through their words and actions that they love you….and struggle with your actions.

        I’m not saying I agree with their position but they are pretty clear about the fact that they would love and protect you as a person. “Haterade for homos” is a pretty strong statement.

        • Xopher says:

          Actually they show through their words and actions that they love you….and struggle with your actions.

          As noted above by davidasposted, this is bullshit. They’re an anti-gay evangelical church and people who want to give to charity should find some other one to donate to, unless they think it’s OK that part of their money will go toward spreading hate.

          I’m so tired of hearing that people who are doing everything they possibly can to make my life harder are doing it out of “love,” and that it’s “part of their ministry.” Bullshit, plain and simple. They’re either lying to themselves or they’re lying to you. Their “loving ministry” is just another Ministry of Love.

        • Anonymous says:

          I love how the anti-gay movement loves to cry victim as soon as anyone calls them on their crap. “Hate is such a strong word”. Yeah, try living with your condescending “we struggle with your actions” attitude aimed at yourself. What struggle could you possibly be having? Perhaps the struggle of how to deal with the majority of society cramming their hateful vitriol down your throat 24-7 telling you you’re going to hell and you’re disgusting? Or how about the struggle of seeing the heterosexual ideal paraded around you on TV, billboards, magazines, on the street, all while being told that holding hands with the person I love is “shoving our sexuality down your throat”? How about the struggle of whether to give up on life because living in a whole full of hate aimed at you every day of your life is just too much of a burden? Now go whine to the teenager in East Bumf**k who’s about to take their own life because they believe the crap that you spew about them. You don’t know what struggle is.

          • Xopher says:

            Whew! Hear, hear! Great rant! Too bad it isn’t from a registered name, though…that way I could have a subtle (or maybe not-so-subtle) bump in my approval of whatever you post from now on because of this.

            Nice work though. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

        • davidasposted says:

          Actually they show through their words and actions that they love you….and struggle with your actions.

          Er, not exactly:

          http://gay.americablog.com/2009/12/salvation-army-is-nasty-anti-gay.html

          • Anonymous says:

            errr yes acctually.

            My family is all Salvationist. I don’t know a single Salvationst, of which I know many, who hates Gay people.

            As with many, you have confused being anti-sin with anti-people.
            Maybe an article from the internet on a Gay website, not putting Christians in a good light (due to the afore mentioned Misconception), is not the best piece of information you could use.

            How many christians have you sat down with honestly and openly and, more importantly, calmly, and spoken to about this?
            Acctually asked what their view point is?
            Because if you think that “Christians Hate Gays”, you’re wrong.

  35. Anonymous says:

    The Salvation Army should spend more time policing their own employees and officers, who freely help themselves to whatever they want and whenever they want it. They denigrate poor people with cumbersome politics, religion and rules, then let their own “chosen people” take first pick of toys, donations. They are abusing their donors by allowing their officers spend cash donations on free housing, cable, cell phones, laptops, food, utilities, cars, etc…ad nauseum. The hell with them

    • Anonymous says:

      You may not know how much an officer makes.

      I do.

      It’s not a lot. All the houses are owned by the SA so there is no need for large amouts of money going to mortgages.
      SA officers work between 40 – 60 hours a week and get a wage of about 20 hours. If that.This is pretty much enough to buy food, clothing when neccessary and petrol for the car that gets them everywhere in their week. Most officers have families I might add.

      Officers don’t spend the money on anything else because there is no anything else. And as I explained the houses are free, because they are owned by SA as a whole, as this allows them movement of Offiers to various places where neccessary without complicated finances. There is very little money left after this.
      As a Christian this does not worry, I merely point these things out to show that your statements are not true.

      Just for the record I bare you no ill will – I’m just blunt :P

  36. wolfiesma says:

    I took some students to a local charity center that distributed food and clothing for a service learning project many years ago. We were bagging the groceries for people to pick up the next day and a family showed up by the back door. The supervisor came over and explained that it wasn’t distribution hours and they would have to come back at the designated time. There was the grandmother, the mom and a couple of kids. And we sent them away with nothing. I probably could have run after them and given them something. But I didn’t and believe me it still haunts me to this day.

    But I guess the people who are actually on the front lines of emergency services like the salvos and the others have to get a thick skin and learn to say no. Kinda sad. Homophobia is really sad, too.

  37. cowtown says:

    I’m not seeing how this changes much. They’re still demanding documentation from people unlikely to have it because of their immigration status. I guess I’m glad that they don’t mean to be cruel to little kids, but they’re still doing a bang-up job at it.

    Kudos to the firefighters, though.

  38. Nancy Jane Moore says:

    One thing no one else has pointed out: The Salvation Army has no right to ask for a social security number. The U.S. SSN is used for tax and employment purposes, so your employer needs to see it (and needs the number so it can report your income), and you need to provide it to banks and people hiring you freelance and such when they’re going to pay you taxable income. But it shouldn’t be used for casual identification, especially since having someone’s social security number makes it very easy to steal their identity.

  39. Anonymous says:

    i hate salvation army. they get free stuff and they make drug addicts work for them for free. and they register their buildings as religious buildings so they dont have to pay taxes!

  40. max_supernova says:

    That’s it? So when you think they’re wrong you use the words “punished for their parents’ deeds”, you broadly hint that people shouldn’t give to them, and you use a pull-quote to question the integrity of their faith, but when they say you’re wrong all you can do is print the statement they send you without comment?

    No apologies, no indication that perhaps you were leaping to baseless conclusions, no remorse for trashing a charity needlessly?

    Stay classy, Cory. Stay classy.

    • Gloria says:

      “baseless conclusions”

      To be fair, what should Cory go on in these cases? His own private investigators? The Houston Chronicle is a large, well-known paper, and it isn’t an enormous leap of faith to trust them.

      He’s posted an update to both posts, and, give some credit here, left up his original statements for all to see. I agree that he needs a mollifying statement — e.g. “I hope anyone who decided to give up on the SA based on this false facts will reconsider their actions” — except based on many first-hand stories in the first thread (more “baseless conclusions”, perhaps), I think a lot of people are already not donating to the SA for plenty of their own reasons.

      @16: “The tone of the first post was completely inappropriate. You made some embarrassing assumptions and then back those up with some pretty ignorant and obnoxious implications.”

      What “embarrassing” assumptions? What “ignorant” implications? All his statements were based on the paper’s report.

      Cory made a mistake, but it was a mistake based on facts of the time. This doesn’t mean he was ignorant and making stuff up then. It meant he came up with a conclusion appropriate to erroneous data.

      There is absolutely nothing wrong with perpetuating a story if you believe it comes from a reliable source. The only question of integrity is whether you are willing to follow it up if you discover you were wrong.

      If anything, the only party that truly owes the SA an outright apology is the Houston Chronicle, which has given it.

      That all said, I agree it was a bit much to throw in the bit about the New Testament/Jesus in the first post (though I agree with it). However, when an organization like the SA makes a point of proselytizing so publicly and connecting it so deeply with its charity acts, I think that does make it fair game. Many Christians can and do perform charitable acts without making it an explicit issue of religion.

      • merryphysician says:

        I apologize for being aggressive earlier. I reread the first HC article carefully and I admit it does a pretty bad job at separating facts (ex. SA requires SSN) from assumption (ex. SA won’t give toys to illegal immigrants)…but the point I made still stand.

        The first post was not made based on the facts at the time, it was made based on the assumptions at the time.

        I think reading an article laced with assumptions, reproducing it as fact, and including a malicious remark at the end just to stick it to the subject of the article is a pretty irresponsible thing to do. Hence the request for an apology.

        Again, sorry for my aggressive tone earlier.

        • Gloria says:

          Thanks for the explanation. But I still think it’s not a big jump — the article directly quotes one charity, Outreach Program Inc., as saying that they check ID, SSN, etc. *explicitly* for the purpose of ensuring the family is legally in the US.

          “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.”

          The article lumps the SA in with Outreach, but it does so because it does quote the SA. Juan Alanis is the SA rep quoted.

          “Alanis and Young say they will serve families if the children are here legally, regardless of the parents’ status. The Salvation Army provides gifts for all children in the family if one sibling is a citizen.”

          So Cory’s error here is clear, but I have to say I find this confusing. If the parents are illegal immigrants but the children are not, SA will give the children gifts. If the children are illegal too, they will only receive gifts if one sibling is a citizen. So technically, the real problem here is that SA is punishing immigration children directly (!).

          And to be entirely fair, the article also brings up examples of charities that also check for ID but NOT for the purpose of ensuring legal immigration status, but to prevent fraud — e.g. Blue Santa and West Houston Assistance Ministries (the latter of which I assume is a religious organization, natch).

          • merryphysician says:

            I can see the confusion there, but that is not a quote that is a paraphrase. And the even the paraphrase conflicts with itself. It implies that the children have to be legal and then it says only one has to be legal.

            What I think happened here is Alanis was trying to explain how yes they realize that providing a SSN may be a difficulty for some families they aren’t looking to exclude people who can’t do it, they just need a SSN from someone in the family for bookkeeping purposes. Alanis likely brought up the child examples thinking that a common example would be illegal parents with a US-born child. Alanis clearly didn’t do a spectacular PR job in this case.

            Either way, Cory specifically singled out the SA after assuming it could be lumped in with the Outreach charity, despite the fact that the other charity was the only one directly quoted about checking for legal status.

            Still seems pretty irresponsible to me.

          • Gloria says:

            Granted. I agree with you. It was a poor PR job by Alanis, shoddy reporting by the Houston Chronicle, and a somewhat careless reading by Cory (although just to be stubborn, I still say it requires quite careful reading to discern exactly what the SA is doing).

            I agree that the SA should not have been singled out based on the fact that at least one other charity seems to be do this, but to be human about this, it seems obvious why. The SA is the best known organization in the article, with branches all over the world, and would hold the most relevance for the majority of BB readers. The fact that it IS so well-known and well-respected (well, not universally, but definitely by many, many people) means it is all the more important to scrutinize them, because their efforts are so far-reaching.

            To be totally honest, I’m completely confident the SA will survive this — after all, they’ve done many other things, verified, and have easily weathered the bad PR they brought.

            Still, I agree that it’s well within Cory’s responsibility to say *something.* He got this particular story wrong, and he can word it quite clearly that he still doesn’t endorse the SA, if that’s his belief.

          • merryphysician says:

            I agree with the outcome you’ve suggested at the bottom of your comment whole-heartedly. But two more quick points.

            1) “Requires careful reading” – All the more reason to be careful then instead of just throwing it up and making a sarcastic comment.

            2) I agree that it is important to scrutinize them. So, as a mitigating point… Local Salvation Army’s (like many other charity-type organizations) set up their own administrative processes to meet their specific needs (which may or may not be a good thing). Though there may certainly be other local SAs engaging in the same practice, the comments made in the article don’t really expose some great misdeed going on internationally.

          • Gloria says:

            “All the more reason to be careful then instead of just throwing it up and making a sarcastic comment.”

            An unfortunate by-product of blogging. It’s quick and messy. The fact that the Houston Chronicle got it wrong as well, despite a relative luxury of time and resources, is more appalling, though it doesn’t negate Cory’s error.

            Re: your second point, in the other thread, I express concerns with that. Of course local branches of a national or international charity should be able to tailor their processes to meet local needs. Perhaps there are more of a certain group that needs aid, or there are cultural accommodations, etc. Pretty reasonable.

            However, I think this kind of policy goes beyond a local need and if a local SA branch practises it, conflicts with the SA’s broad ideology. What’s the point in taking a certain name if you don’t intend to honour its spirit?

  41. merryphysician says:

    Agreed with Max. An apology is definitely warranted here.

    The tone of the first post was completely inappropriate. You made some embarrassing assumptions and then back those up with some pretty ignorant and obnoxious implications.

    I’m all for questioning how charities use our money and donations, but you did a lot of damage here for absolutely no reason.

    Well-played