ACRJ still weighing ICE notification change

ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The issue of whether the local jail should voluntarily notify ICE when undocumented immigrants are released remains an open and hotly debated question.

At the Thursday meeting of the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail, Superintendent Martin Kumer updated the board on the status of an automated notification system called Vine Link.

The Vine Link system was created to notify crime victims when a perpetrator is being released. Anyone, including ICE officials, can use it.

Last fall, at the urging of immigrant advocates, the jail board agreed to consider using the Vine Link system instead of making voluntary calls to ICE, but the board's concerns about its accuracy delayed the decision.

Jail Board Chair Diantha McKeel says Vine Link is still working to fix those problems, and the jail won't make a final decision before that happens.

"They hope to have a system up and running by early February to improve the accuracy," she said. "And then we want to take the time to test it."

Opponents of the switch to Vine Link, including Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney Robert Tracci, say the notification is important for community safety. But others in law enforcement, including Charlottesville Commonwealth's Attorney Joe Platania, have said publicly they oppose the voluntary ICE notifications because they are enforced unevenly and may erode the community's trust in law enforcement.

While the board is waiting to test the improved Vine Link system in February, a Virginia lawmaker has introduced a bill that, if passed, would require jails to notify ICE when undocumented immigrants are released.

The jail board meets again in March.

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