A Bakersfield woman who pleaded guilty to resisting arrest in early January is claiming she was falsely arrested and now she's afraid she could face deportation.
The plight of Ruth Montano has attracted the attention of the American Civil Liberties Union. On Wednesday, ACLU attorney Jennie Pasquarella gave a brief description of what happened to Montano on New Year's Eve.
Pasquarella said Montano had gone to a store with her children and when she returned saw several Kern County sheriff's vehicles outside her trailer. She asked what was going on, and deputies told her they were responding to a noise complaint regarding her dogs.
The attorney, who said the ACLU has not filed a lawsuit on Montano's behalf, said deputies were verbally abusive to Montano and unlawfully arrested her. Montano was charged with resisting arrest and an infraction for having an animal that makes excessive noise.
There are no witnesses to back up Montano's claims regarding the arrest, Pasquarella said. Montano has denied allegations that she struck a deputy.
Kern County sheriff's spokesman Ray Pruitt said he couldn't comment on the case since Montano has retained an attorney and a claim could be filed against the county.
Pasquarella said Montano only pleaded guilty to resisting arrest because she had spent several days in custody and wanted to get back to her children. She was held for a few days following her plea because an immigration hold was placed on her, and there's the possibility she could be deported.
Pasquarella said she's trying to raise awareness of Montano's situation, and given what happened she should not be a candidate for deportation.
U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement receives annual appropriations from Congress to remove a number of the 10 million people estimated to be in the U.S. illegally or who are removable because of a criminal conviction, according to the agency's website.
"In addition to criminal aliens, ICE focuses on recent illegal entrants, repeat violators who game the immigration system, those who fail to appear at immigration hearings, and fugitives who have already been ordered removed by an immigration judge," the website says.
Pasquarella said Montano should never have been arrested in the first place and shouldn't fall under ICE's guidelines for illegal immigrants that should be deported.
Montano's situation has also drawn the attention of proponents of the TRUST Act, legislation that would have limited ICE's hold requests, according to news release sent Tuesday. The bill was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown, but advocates are hopeful that a new version will be drafted and an agreement reached.