by Jordan Woodlief
Welcome to “Clarity in Chaos.” This blog series will touch on current hot-button immigration issues and policies every other Thursday, providing operational and spiritual clarity in the midst of chaos. This Thursday’s topic of discussion is “ICE Notification Policies.”
January 25, 2018: The ACRJ (Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail) votes 7-3 to continue its policy of voluntarily notifying ICE when undocumented immigrants being held at the jail are released.
November 8, 2018: The ACRJ Board decides without a vote not to reverse its ICE notification policy.
May 9, 2019: The ACRJ Board votes 7-4 to continue its ICE notification policy.
“ICE Notification Policies” refer to policies where law enforcement agencies (LEAs) notify ICE when an undocumented immigrant is being released from custody and/or hold undocumented immigrants for an extended period of time to allow ICE to pick them up. The goal is for ICE to detain undocumented immigrants in its own facilities and to initiate removal proceedings.
Per its website, ICE “issues detainers and requests for notification to law enforcement agencies (LEAs) to provide notice of its intent to assume custody of an individual detained in federal, state, or local custody. Detainers are placed on aliens arrested on criminal charges for whom ICE possesses probable cause to believe that they are removable from the United States.”
In reality, ICE has taken advantage of a policy that may seem reasonable to LEAs by trying to assume custody of immigrants who have very minor and/or non-violent criminal charges or even traffic citations. It should also be noted that ICE is attempting to assume custody in cases where an immigrant has been charged, but not yet convicted.
As of now, the ICE notification policy at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail (ACRJ) is, upon ICE’s request, to call ICE up to 48 hours prior to when an undocumented immigrant will be released from jail. Per ACRJ policy, when undocumented individuals are booked at the jail, biographic information and scanned fingerprints are sent to ICE before a call is even made, as well. Since 2017, ACRJ has not held any person longer than scheduled for ICE.
ICE notification policies are optional and determined by locality in Virginia. As such, this issue has dominated Albemarle County politics since the ACRJ approved the notification policy. The Commonwealth’s Attorney election race between Jim Hingeley and Robert Tracci in November 2019 featured this issue prominently, while the ACRJ and ICE have been embroiled in recent controversy due to the policy.
When an immigrant is detained by ICE, the effects are far-reaching. Families are separated, income is lost for a household, and local employers lose labor.
The process for being granted release from ICE detention is difficult, and even when an immigration judge grants release on bond (only ~ 48% of the time), the cost is more than emotional. The median bond amount granted so far in 2020 is $10,000.00, which on top of the cost of attorney’s fees, can severely strain family finances, or may cause even longer separation if a family is unable to pay immediately.
ICE notification policies damage the relationships that LEAs have with local immigrant communities. Immigrant victims of crime become fearful of reporting crimes to LEAs, believing that they may be detained by ICE. As a result, crime, especially involving private violence, can go unchecked.
ICE notification policies hinder LEAs’ independence. LEAs may determine that an individual is not a dangerous threat to the community and plans to release them, but then ICE can step in and indefinitely detain that individual nonetheless.
MOVING FORWARD WITH FAITH
If you’re wondering what you can do to address this problem – especially as it is a very contentious issue locally – look no further. Here are some of the ways you can get involved:
Donate to the C’Ville Immigrant Freedom Bond Fund, which raises and distributes funds to provide grants for legal representation and no-interest loans for bonds.
If you are eligible to do so, vote for candidates that support ending ICE notification policies. Sheriffs and Commonwealth’s Attorneys, which have a say over the policies’ continuation, are elected by the public, not appointed.
Most importantly, attend local community events and voice your concern about ICE notification policies, such as at the ACRJ Board Meeting on March 12th and the Nehemiah Action on March 31st (information below).
ACRJ Board Meeting
When: Thursday, March 12th, 12:30 PM – 2:00 PM
Where: Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail, 160 Peregory Lane, Charlottesville, VA 22902
Note: Guests should arrive around 11:00 AM if they want to make a public comment
When: March 31st, 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM
Where: MLK Performing Arts Center, 1400 Melbourne Rd, Charlottesville, VA 22901
***If you plan on attending either of these events and/or if you have any questions, please contact IMPACT Staff Member Aidan Workman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Jail Authority Board Grills ICE About Notifications.” The Daily Progress. https://www.dailyprogress.com/news/local/jail-authority-board-grills-ice-about-notifications/article_5dc778d0-a73c-11e8-a1cd-a78d5bc9528d.html.
“Jail Board Sticks with ICE Notification Policy.” The Daily Progress. https://www.dailyprogress.com/news/local/jail-board-sticks-with-ice-notification-policy/article_ca48dad2-e3ad-11e8-a2cf-536b35905dbf.html.
“Public Safety Imperative: Regional Jail Debates Cooperation with ICE.” The Crozet Gazette. https://www.crozetgazette.com/2018/12/06/public-safety-imperative-regional-jail-debates-cooperation-with-ice/.
“Student Groups Respond to ICE Notification Policy at Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail.” Cavalier Daily. https://www.cavalierdaily.com/article/2019/04/student-groups-respond-to-ice-notification-policy-at-albemarle-charlottesville-regional-jail.
“ACRJ to Maintain ICE Policy on Undocumented Inmates.” The Daily Progress. https://www.dailyprogress.com/news/crime/acrj-to-maintain-ice-policy-on-undocumented-inmates/article_26bb794c-728c-11e9-b5dc-0f786c583b82.html.
“Detainers.” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. https://www.ice.gov/detainers.
“ICE, ACRJ Spare Over Notifications After Child Sexual Assault Case.” The Daily Progress. https://www.dailyprogress.com/news/local/ice-acrj-spar-over-notifications-after-child-sexual-assault-case/article_0b7734f3-eead-5402-a6bf-51b35c1ee3e6.html.
“Immigration Court Bond Hearings and Related Case Decisions: October 2000 through January 2020.” TRAC Immigration, Syracuse University. https://trac.syr.edu/phptools/immigration/bond/.
“Under Trump, Higher Immigration Bonds Mean Longer Family Separations.” PBS. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/under-trump-higher-immigration-bonds-mean-longer-family-separation