ATLANTA — A Cobb County business is the newest member of a nationwide program by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to ensure a legal and more secure workforce.
"IMAGE," or "ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers," is a voluntary program that allows private industry to partner with ICE to reduce unauthorized employment and the use of fraudulent identity documents.
Peter Witkiewicz, the owner of Comfort Keepers, was presented a certificate of completion Thursday, indicating his company is a certified IMAGE partner.
"By volunteering to become members of IMAGE, companies large and small can reduce unauthorized employment and the use of fraudulent identity documents," said Brock D. Nicholson, special agent in charge of ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Atlanta, which oversees Georgia and the Carolinas. "Businesses that join IMAGE also increase the reputation of their brand and their company."
Comfort Keepers is an in-home service providing personal care and assistance to the elderly and infirm. The company, which has been servicing clients in Cobb County for almost 10 years, employees about 60 caregivers and administrative staff.
"Comfort Keepers is honored to be admitted into the IMAGE program," said Witkiewicz. "We think that ensuring our workforce is legal and legitimately authorized to work in the United States is the right thing to do. Comfort Keepers is doing its part to help stop the problem of illegal immigration by ensuring that the people we hire are legally entitled to the job."
To qualify for IMAGE certification, Comfort Keepers performed the following requirements.
- Conducted self-assessments of their hiring practices to uncover vulnerabilities that could be exploited by illegal aliens;
- Enrolled in employment eligibility verification programs, such as E-Verify and the Social Security Number Verification Service;
- Underwent a Form I-9 audit conducted by ICE.
Witkiewicz praised the work of office manager Nancy Kujawski in completing the necessary work for enrollment into IMAGE.
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.
Upon enrollment in and commitment to the IMAGE Best Employment Practices, program participants are deemed "IMAGE certified," a distinction DHS and ICE believe will become an industry standard. IMAGE also provides to all employers free training on the Form I-9, fraudulent document detection, and building a solid immigration compliance model.
Companies interested in more information on the IMAGE program can visit www.ICE.gov/image.