Complaint of barking dogs leads to possible deportation

Complaint of barking dogs leads to possible deportation
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — When Ruth Montaño was returning to her mobile home park with two children on Dec. 31, she observed Kern County deputies outside her home.

Deputies apparently were responding to a neighbor's complaint of Montaño's barking dogs, a Chihuahua and a poodle.

"They told me the dogs were creating a disturbance, which they were not," said Montaño.

A police report states that Montaño became agitated, kicked a deputy and resisted arrest. The 39-year-old mother denies the allegations and claims that deputies became irritated when she questioned them. She said she was thrown against a patrol car and handcuffed in the presence of her children.

Montaño was charged with one misdemeanor count of resisting arrest and one infraction of maintaining an animal that makes excessive noise.

But, things soon went from bad to worse. While in jail, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement placed an immigration "detainer" or hold on Montaño.

Such detainers are used when ICE suspects someone is in the country illegally. When a person's case is adjudicated, ICE then gains custody of the person from the corresponding law enforcement agency, in this case the Kern County Sheriff's Office. Deportation proceedings usually follow.

"It's happening everyday," said immigration attorney Win Eaton.

Eaton said once anyone is arrested for anything, their name and ID is run through an immigration database. If there is no positive return of legitimate status, then ICE places a hold on them.

American Civil Liberties Union staff attorney Jennie Pasquarella said the charges against Montaño are bogus, and possibly motivated by something else.

"We see local sheriff's motivated by someone's immigration status to make an arrest that had no basis in the law," said Pasquarella.

Kern County Sheriff's spokesman Ray Pruitt said that on advice of Kern County Counsel, the department would not comment on the matter as the case is now pending with the American Civil Liberties Union.

Montaño was released from custody after pleading guilty to one count of resisting arrest. The other charge of maintaining a animal that makes excessive noise was dismissed. Montaño said she took the plea deal when she learned she would then be released and that she would be able to care for her children.

But she now faces an immigration hearing in September.

"I don't know if they are going to allow me to stay or if they are going to deport me," said Montaño.