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Arlington Votes To Withdraw From Federal Immigration Enforcement Initiative

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By Rebecca Blatt

Arlington County, Virginia is working to opt out of a federal initiative to identify and remove illegal immigrants.

The Arlington County board voted unanimously to withdraw from the Secure Communities Program. Under the program, police are required to check fingerprints of anyone arrested and booked through the Department of Homeland Security's immigration database, in addition to the FBI criminal database. All Virginia jurisdictions participate in the initiative, as well as several hundred jurisdictions in 26 states.

The resolution passed by the board says Arlington is committed to public safety, it also says it is not the role of local officers to enforce federal immigration laws.

The resolution states that there are concerns among officers and residents that the program may create divisions in the community and what it calls a "culture of fear" and distrust of law enforcement. It directs the county manager to work with state and federal agencies to outline the procedures by which Arlington can withdraw its participation.

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