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ICE Remains Hot Topic at Regional Jail Board Meeting

Posted: Updated: Jul 12, 2018 06:18 PM
Woman holds sign in protest of ICE at ACRJ board meeting. Woman holds sign in protest of ICE at ACRJ board meeting.
Community members gathered at ACRJ's board meeting on Thursday in protest. Community members gathered at ACRJ's board meeting on Thursday in protest.
Members of the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail board. Members of the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail board.
Over a dozen people were in attendance of Thursday's board meeting. Over a dozen people were in attendance of Thursday's board meeting.
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) -

Activist groups are calling on the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail to stop notifying Immigration and Customs Enforcement when undocumented immigrants are released from jail.

On Thursday, at the ACRJ board meeting, many community members showed up to voice their opinion on the ICE volunteer notification process.

The board revisited their policy in January and agreed by a 7-3 vote to notify ICE 48 hours prior to an alien inmate’s release. This gives ICE the opportunity to pick up those who are in the United States illegally.

Protestors argued that ICE is an inhumane organization that breaks up families and that the current action is wrong. Many community members showed up to the meeting with a strongly worded letter and signs asking that the ICE volunteer notification process come to an end.

[Tweet from @MeghanMoriarty_ "Here is a copy of the letter from many Charlottesville and Albe. Co. groups saying ICE notifications “must be terminated immediately”]

“I think that the jail board failed to understand what the true dangers of our community are,” said Mark Heisey, an organizer with Showing Up for Racial Justice.

Since 2017, ICE has taken 25 people from the Albemarle County area.

“ICE does have a zero tolerance policy, which means they want people from local jails who are here simply for being in the country illegally,” said ACRJ superintendent Martin Kumer.

ACRJ is legally required to notify the state of Virginia when someone who is not a U.S. citizen comes into the facility. Through fingerprinting, that same information goes to ICE, who then has the option to come in and interview the inmate and file a detainer.

“If they want them then they’ll file a detainer request that we voluntarily notify ICE when that person is about to be released from their state charges,” Kumer said.

The voluntary part of the process is what protesters are upset about.

“[We hope] that the board will recognize ICE as a systematic violator of human rights and dignity and stop their collaboration with them,” Heisey said.
According to Kumer, the jail notifies ICE, but do not hold inmates for them if ICE cannot get there before their release.

“We wouldn’t hold them for five more minutes,” Kumer said. “If the release time is 8 a.m., they’ll be released at 8 a.m.”

The board decided to wait to make a decision on its next steps because two board members are currently on the Charlottesville pilgrimage to Alabama. After listening to the public, they hope to schedule a meeting in August for a re-vote.