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Toy Drives Checking Immigration Status of Children

By Matthew Yglesias  

"Toy Drives Checking Immigration Status of Children"

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Can reindeer even survive in Mexico? (cc photo by Photo Denbow)

Can reindeer even survive in Mexico? (cc photo by Photo Denbow)

I think there are pretty good pragmatic reasons to think that democratic governments should consider themselves primarily responsible for the welfare of their citizens rather than for the welfare of humanity at large. But clearly in an absolute sense we’re all human beings and all equally important no matter which country we were born in. But I guess that’s not clear enough for everyone:

The Salvation Army and a charity affiliated with the Houston Fire Department are among those that consider immigration status, asking for birth certificates or Social Security cards for the children.

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.

“It’s not our desire to turn anyone down,” she said. “Those kids are not responsible if they are here illegally. It is the parents’ responsibility.”

I’m not sure what sense it makes to say that “the point” isn’t “to punish the children” since the method chosen is the punishment of children.

Meanwhile grant that it’s “the parents’ responsibility” that the family may be in the United States without legal permission. Suppose the parents had committed a crime that’s even more serious than moving across an international boundary without permission in order to do work in exchange for money (hard to imagine a more serious offense, I know). What if they’d, I dunno, broken into people’s homes and stolen jewelry and now they’re in jail. Is the Salvation Army going to say that their kids shouldn’t have toys to play with? What sense does that make?

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