"Worksite enforcement has traditionally focused on employees and employers, however, we are seeing a growing interest among business executives who want to learn more about the business benefits of having a compliant workforce," said Bruce M. Foucart, special agent in charge of ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Boston. "They’re recognizing how avoiding expensive fines and the public awareness that come with these fines makes good business sense."
In fiscal year 2011, HSI issued fines for worksite violations against 25 companies throughout New England totaling $362,748.51. ICE HSI special agents conducted 89 inspections during the just-completed fiscal year, a dramatic rise over the 54 inspections conducted in FY 2010 and 29 in FY 2009. During the inspections, agents discovered worksite administrative violations and employees who were either working or hired illegally.
IMAGE is a voluntary program that allows businesses to partner with ICE to maintain a secure and stable workforce and curtail the employment of unauthorized workers through outreach and education. ICE recently revamped IMAGE, simplifying program requirements.
To qualify for IMAGE certification, companies must perform the following requirements:
- Enroll in the E-Verify program within 60 days
- Establish a written hiring and employment eligibility verification policy that includes internal Form I-9 audits at least once per year
- Submit to a Form I-9 inspection.
Undocumented workers create vulnerabilities in today's marketplace by presenting false documents to gain employment, completing applications for fraudulent benefits, and stealing identities of legal United States workers. To combat this, ICE initiated the IMAGE program in 2006.
All IMAGE members must participate in the Department of Homeland Security (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 free to employers. It provides an automated link to the Social Security Administration database and DHS immigration records.
Companies interested in more information on the IMAGE program can call the ICE office in Boston at (617) 565-6286, or visit www.ICE.gov/image.