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09/02/2011

3 companies in Puerto Rico join ICE's effort to secure a legal workforce

Initiative aids businesses with making good hiring decisions

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — National Life Insurance, Industria Lechera de Puerto Rico (INDULAC), and Fondo para el Fomento de la Insdustria Lechera are the most recent businesses in Puerto Rico to become members of the IMAGE program with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Short for ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers, IMAGE provides businesses an opportunity to partner with ICE to develop a more secure and stable workforce.

Representatives of the three companies signed the agreement of understanding with ICE Friday, joining 10 other businesses that belong to the ICE IMAGE program in Puerto Rico.

"Most employers want to comply with our nation's immigration laws. Yet, every day they are confronted with illegal aliens attempting to secure jobs through fraudulent means, including the use of counterfeit documents and stolen identities," said Roberto Escobar-Vargas, special agent in charge of ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Puerto Rico. "The aim of IMAGE is to help employers deal with these situations and confidently develop a legal workforce."

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) introduced IMAGE to help companies strengthen their hiring practices and reduce the unlawful employment of illegal aliens. The program assists employers in targeted sectors to develop a more secure and stable workforce and to enhance fraudulent document awareness through education and training.

By voluntarily participating in the IMAGE program, companies can reduce unauthorized employment and the use of fraudulent identity documents. ICE provides education and training on proper hiring procedures, fraudulent document detection, use of the E-Verify employment eligibility verification program and anti-discrimination procedures.

All IMAGE participants gain membership to DHS' E-Verify employment eligibility verification program. Through this program, employers can verify that newly hired employees are eligible to work in the United States. This Internet-based system is available throughout the nation and is currently free to employers. It provides an automated link to the Social Security Administration database and DHS immigration records.

Employers seeking to participate in IMAGE must agree to:

  • Complete a self-assessment questionnaire;
  • Enroll in E-Verify;
  • Enroll in the Social Security Number Verification Service;
  • Adhere to IMAGE Best Hiring Practices;
  • Undergo an I-9 audit conducted by ICE; and
  • Review and sign an official IMAGE partnership agreement with ICE.

Upon enrollment in and commitment to DHS Best Employment Practices, program participants will be deemed "IMAGE certified," a distinction DHS believes will become an industry standard.

On April 8, 2008, in cooperation with several local businesses, ICE launched the IMAGE program in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Other companies in Puerto Rico participating in the IMAGE program include: Puerto Rico Freight System, Pan Pepin, Vaqueria Tres Monjitas, El Conquistador Hotel & Casino, DJ Manufacturing (now Blue Waters), Bacardi Corporation, Starbucks Coffee Puerto Rico, LLC., the Loyalty Management Group, Inc., Wisdom Resources, Inc., dba Snelling Staffing Services, and Empresas Fonalledas.

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