Charlottesville law enforcement officials say they will not participate in any federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids, should they occur locally.
Following days of inquiry, the Charlottesville Police Department — along with the Charlottesville Sheriff’s Office and Charlottesville Commonwealth Attorney’s Office — said in a news release Wednesday that they would not participate in any ICE raids.
They also stated that ICE has not informed them of any raids planned in the area.
“To date, no notifications have been received from any federal agency regarding the commencement of any such enforcement operations,” the release reads. “It is the position of the Charlottesville Police Department, Charlottesville Sheriff’s Office, and Charlottesville Commonwealth Attorney’s Office that there will be no local participation or coordination with any such federal enforcement operations, should they occur locally.”
ICE raids were initially set to begin in 10 major U.S. cities last Sunday and target upwards of 2,000 families, according to the Washington Post.
However, on Saturday, President Donald Trump wrote in a tweet that he delayed the raids and instead requested Democrats work on a plan to solve issues at the border.
“At the request of Democrats, I have delayed the Illegal Immigration Removal Process (Deportation) for two weeks to see if the Democrats and Republicans can get together and work out a solution to the Asylum and Loophole problems at the Southern Border,” Trump tweeted. “If not, Deportations start!”
Though Charlottesville was not among the cities slated to be targeted, local immigration advocates had preached caution and called for local law enforcement not to participate.
In an email to the Daily Progress on Saturday, prior to Trump’s delay, Priscilla Mendenhall — a member of the Charlottesville-Area Immigrant Resource and Advocacy Coalition — said that though the organization had not heard of raids locally, fear had still been instilled in the community.
“We have not received information that any raids will take place regionally, but this does not mean they will not,” she wrote. “And, it certainly does not negate the effect of this announcement on already fearful families and community, or the fact that these raids are part of a criminalizing and destructive immigration enforcement apparatus.”
Mendenhall wrote that CIRAC was demanding that local law enforcement not participate in any ICE raids “either in this area or elsewhere in the state.”
On Wednesday, Mendenhall called on the authorities in Albemarle County to make the same promise as Charlottesville.
“Not all law enforcement has responded yet. CIRAC would like for Albemarle officials to go on record about not complying with ICE raids,” she said.
When reached for comment, an Albemarle County public safety spokeswoman said she had not seen the city’s news release and was unable to provide a statement by press time.
In a public letter posted to its website, CIRAC decried the threat of raids and drew attention to unaccompanied minors being held at Shenandoah Juvenile Detention Center and ICE notifications from the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail. The latter issue has been a focal point of area activists for the last year.
“Notifying and releasing incarcerated people to ICE by the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail is not mandated by law. It is a violation of constitutionally guaranteed due process,” the letter reads. “This practice harms members of our community and does not enhance public safety. We call on the ACRJ Board to end the practice. Now.”
In May, the ACRJ board voted to continue notifying immigration officials of release dates for jailed undocumented immigrants, provided that federal officials have filed immigration detainers on the specific inmates.
The vote came after a year of protests, petitions and efforts by area residents and the board to find alternative ways to handle ICE requests. There is no federal law requiring local and regional jails to notify immigration officials about undocumented migrants upon incarceration, nor is there a state law.
However, Jail Superintendent Martin Kumer said during the May meeting that the notification process is different than it appears and that jail employees only notify ICE of an undocumented immigrant’s release if ICE has the proper paperwork on file.
The first notification comes when basic incarceration information is uploaded to the National Crime Information Center and other databases, he said, and includes a variety of data, such as stolen firearms and vehicles and domestic violence, as well as sexual offender lists and a list of persons whose applications to purchase firearms have been denied.
According to Kumer, the board’s vote means jail staff will continue to fingerprint persons arrested and ask a series of state-mandated questions that include whether they are U.S. citizens and what their country of birth is.
Despite the vote, Mendenhall said CIRAC is not done fighting ACRJ ICE notifications.
“Yes, the law says they have to fingerprint arrestees, which then goes to a database that ICE can access, but nothing else ACRJ officials do to notify ICE is legally required,” she said. “This is a never-ending issue for us and our allies.”