There are some bad immigrants out there, from ecstasy dealers to robbers to murderers, and deporting them is probably the least we could do.
But being booted out of the country for barking dogs? That's what Southern California resident Ruth Montano was facing. At least until the ACLU stepped in:
The 38-year-old mother of three children born in L.A. was arrested in Bakersfield after neighbors complained that her dogs were making too much noise … on New Year's Eve.
She says she returned from a trip to the store with her kids when she was surrounded by cops — a half-dozen units are said to have responded — and insulted, asked about her immigration status, and handcuffed, according to her testimonial.
Montano blamed racism, plain and simple. The ACLU argues that cops arrested her because of her immigration status but used trumped up charges to get at her.
The ACLU says local deputies held her for a week, way beyond the legal limit in California — 48 hours without charges — in order to let federal immigration officials have a crack at her. That they did, threatening to deport her back to Mexico, the org says.
Montano has been in the United States for 14 years but is not here legally. She was arrested that day on suspicion of resisting police (she says she complained about the handcuffs being too tight) and having noisy dogs.
The ACLU of Southern California fought the case and says today it has triumphed:
ICE's announcement that it would not seek to deport Ruth came just days after the ACLU of Southern California (ACLU/SC) and Cuentame, a Latino organization that uses social media to shine the light on social justice issues, released a short video about her case. The ACLU of Southern California applauds ICE for taking swift action to correct its mistakes, as Ruth never should have been placed in deportation proceedings in the first place.
The civil libertarians said the case proves why the proposed California TRUST Act, which would limit cops' ability to hold the undocumented for more than 48 hours because of minor allegations, should be signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown (he vetoed a previous version).
A translation of Montano's final thoughts on the matter:
Given my experience, I believe that the Governor needs to take seriously the fact that police are treating Hispanics differently knowing that any arrest they make can lead to deportation. The Governor should sign the TRUST Act so that no one else has to live through what I and so many other immigrants have experienced.