August 17, 2008

Point of Contact: Carlos Quintanilla of Acción America

12:00 AM CDT on Sunday, August 17, 2008

Our Q&A with Carlos Quintanilla, president of Acción America. His immigrant-advocacy group plans a protest at Trinity Medical Center in Carrollton over the arrest of María Martínez, suspected to be an illegal immigrant and accused of submitting a false Social Security number with her job application.

Why the protest?

If you look at almost every major hospital in the Dallas metroplex and almost every single employer, they have opted not to take an aggressive position regarding the same situation as María Martínez faced. Trinity ... took it a step further and said: We're going to file criminal charges and call a detective in Carrollton. They arrest this woman for tampering with government documents. ...

Why did they act so aggressive? Was it necessary for them to take the action that they took against this woman? Was she really a threat to public safety, as they have claimed? ... [She] simply presented a document that has been presented for 20 or 30 years without any cause, without any problems. And if we're to look at most companies, you'd find there's a significant number that close their eyes and ignore the question of false documents.

Shouldn't employers abide by the law?

They took it a step further by participating in the entrapment of this woman. They could've just said: Hey, we're not going to hire you. Your documents are no good. And that's it.

Are hospitals in a class by themselves regarding immigrants?

Hospitals are safe zones. She was applying at a Luby's restaurant inside a hospital. ... This is a dysfunctional policy that needs to be uniform, fair and equitable. It can't be disparate. It can't be where one hospital says "yes" and another says "no."

Then where does Acción America stand regarding enforcement of the law?

We have never said, "Give protection to immigrants who have committed criminal offenses." We have never said there should be no protection of the borders. What we have always said is that it [immigration enforcement] should be fair and equal."

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Should the Texas State Legislature pass immigration enforcement laws in 2009?