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Correction to This Article
A headline on an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Carlos A. Martinelly-Montano received a federal work card issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Driver in crash that killed nun in Prince William had federal work card issued

As sisters of the Benedictine order gather in Bristow, Va., for a five-day retreat, a crash blamed on drunken driving kills one nun and critically injures two others, adding gravity and emotion to the event.

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By Martin Weil
Saturday, September 4, 2010

The allegedly drunk driver charged in the collision death of a nun received a federal permit to work in this country while efforts to deport him were underway, the Prince William County police chief said Friday.

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Chief Charlie T. Deane wrote to the head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement about the case of Carlos A. Martinelly-Montano, 23, whose car swerved last month into the path of a vehicle carrying three nuns en route to a retreat. One nun died, and two were critically injured.

In a letter dated Aug. 30 and released Friday, Deane said he wanted "to officially express my concerns" about a policy that allows employment authorization cards to be issued to illegal aliens in deportation proceedings.

He asked ICE chief John T. Morton, an assistant secretary in the Department of Homeland Security, that "this glaring gap in DHS policy be ended."

Martinelly-Montano's case became a rallying point for advocates of stiffer immigration enforcement after the collision. He told police that he didn't remember the crash, according to the arrest warrant. County Commonwealth's Attorney Paul Ebert said he intends to ask a grand jury to return a second-degree murder indictment in the crash, in which Sister Denise Mosier, 66, died.

Martinelly-Montano entered the United States illegally at age 8 with his parents and sister, and he had been awaiting a deportation hearing after two convictions for drunken driving, in 2007 and 2008.

While Martinelly-Montano was jailed in connection with the second DUI case in October of 2008, Deane wrote, ICE was notified "of his illegal presence," and an immigration detainer was issued. However, Deane wrote, Martinelly-Montano was given the work card Jan. 14, 2009. He used the card to obtain a valid Virginia ID card, Deane said.

Deane said Martinelly-Montano used a previously issued employment card to obtain a driver's license. An employment card is not a green card, which indicates permanent legal residence.

Matt Chandler, a spokesman for DHS, said, "In July, Secretary [Janet] Napolitano ordered an immediate review into the circumstances leading to this individual being released in 2008." That investigation continues.

Chandler added, "In the past 18 months, this administration has fundamentally reformed immigration enforcement, using our resources to focus on identifying and removing criminal aliens who pose a threat to public safety -- removing record numbers of criminal aliens."


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