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Even within Virginia, there is disagreement over whether local jurisdictions should be enforcing federal immigration laws. Arlington County has attempted to opt out of the federal Secure Communities program, expected to be implemented nationwide by 2013.

Under the program, all people arrested have their fingerprints scanned at local jails, which share the scans with the FBI and ICE. Anyone found to be in the country illegally is turned over to ICE for deportation proceedings.

ICE says that in January 2009 — after Martinelly Montano’s second drunken-driving conviction — it changed its policy regarding the apprehension, detention and removal of criminal aliens who pose a threat to the public, and ICE Director John Morton outlined the policies in a memorandum in June 2010.

Under the new policies, Martinelly Montano would have been detained had he been turned over to ICE, a Homeland Security report said.

The department deported a record 393,000 illegal immigrants in fiscal 2010, about half of which were “non-criminal” immigrant violators.