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First Tennessee business becomes IMAGE partner with ICE

First Tennessee business becomes IMAGE partner with ICE
First Tennessee business becomes IMAGE partner with ICE
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A Knoxville general contractor partnering with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has become the first Tennessee business to join the ICE IMAGE program, which is aimed at reducing fraud and the hiring of illegal workers.

ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers (IMAGE) is a joint initiative between government and the business community to restore integrity to the United States immigration system by strengthening the hiring practices in private industry.

J.A. Fielden officially became an IMAGE partner at a signing ceremony in Knoxville today, partnering with ICE to ensure a more secure workforce and to enhance fraudulent document awareness through education and training. The IMAGE program is voluntary and helps employers comply with the law by equipping them with the knowledge and tools needed to ensure a legal, authorized workforce.

"In today's world, employers have a responsibility to protect the integrity of their labor force by ensuring that their employees are who they represent themselves to be and that they are legally authorized to work in this country," said Raymond R. Parmer, Jr., special agent in charge of ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in New Orleans. "ICE recognizes that the highest level of employment integrity can only be achieved through close coordination with industry partners. J.A. Fielden will join IMAGE business participants around the country who are committed to protecting the integrity of their workforce."

Signing the agreement on behalf of the company will be Joe Fielden, president of the J.A. Fielden Company.

J.A. Fielden employs more than 25 people and has numerous subcontractors who work on their construction projects. Subcontractors bring multiple workers based on the project. J.A. Fielden has strict requirements that all workers for subcontractors, including second and third tier, must have documentation, according to the company president. J.A. Fielden also reviews the Forms I-9 for any subcontractor employee to ensure employment eligibility compliance.

"Our acceptance into the IMAGE Program not only fortifies our position as a responsible corporate citizen, it reaffirms our pride in the diversity of our compliant workforce," said Fielden. "Their contributions strengthen our economy and embody the American ideal of hard work."

To qualify for IMAGE certification, partners agree to enroll in E-verify, have written hiring policies that include a self-audit, and undergo an ICE Form I-9 audit. Upon completion of this process, program participants are deemed "IMAGE certified," a distinction the Department of Homeland Security and ICE believe will become an industry standard. IMAGE also provides free training to all employers on the provisions of the Form I-9, fraudulent document detection, and building a solid immigration compliance model.

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 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 ICE at 228-214-7020 or visit www.ICE.gov/image.