ACRJ to test ICE notification change

ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The board of the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail is moving forward with a plan to use a online system called VINE to notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when undocumented immigrants are being released.

The use of VINE would mark a change from the jail's previous policy, in which the jail called ICE when undocumented immigrants were released.

The decision is contentious as immigrant advocates urge the jail to entirely discontinue the voluntary notification of ICE, citing damage to immigrant families and a loss of trust between community members and local law enforcement.

Supporters of ICE notification say it is an issue of community safety.

In September, ACRJ Superintendent Martin Kumer suggested switching to VINE as a compromise, and at the Thursday board meeting, Kumer and a VINE representative told the board that concerns about the system's accuracy had been addressed.

ICE is not happy with the prospect of using VINE. In an October 29 letter to jail board members, ICE Field Office Director Russell Hott said VINE was not designed for law enforcement use and could be susceptible to error.

"Put simply, abandoning ACRJ's current policy on this important public safety matter and instead relying on a third-party system... would be, for all intents and purposes, a vote to end release notifications," he wrote.

But immigration attorney Tanishka Cruz disagrees. She says ICE will still get the notification they want using VINE.

"Ultimately, it's going to have the same effect," she said. "But I think symbolically for the community, it's a separation of that perceived collaboration, so it starts to move us towards a separation of these two law enforcement agencies."

ACRJ Board Chair Diantha McKeel said the board would test VINE's accuracy over the next couple of months before making a permanent change.

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