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

A few hours ago, I made a post about the Houston Chronicle's investigation into the practice of local charities, including the Salvation Army, requiring proof of immigration status before giving toys to children. The Salvation Army has written to me to clarify that their checking of social security numbers and other ID is intended to "verify that individuals and families are not registering more than once at multiple Salvation Army facilities and to ensure people actually have the number of children they claim."

Jennifer Byrd sez, "As The Salvation Army's National Public Relations Director, I wanted to inform you that the original Houston Chronicle story was a bit misleading in how it portrayed the use of social security numbers and ID by The Salvation Army in Houston to register people in need. In actuality, no program run by The Salvation Army at a national or local level requires the recipient of services to present documentation that verifies they are a U.S. citizen."

From the Houston Chronicle's followup story:

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."

Charities say they don't intend to discriminate (Thanks, Jennifer!)