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02/09/2011

Mass. medical center becomes first in the country to join IMAGE program

Saints Medical Center partners with ICE to ensure legal status of workforce

BOSTON - A Massachusetts medical center has become the country's first health care facility to sign an agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to strengthen hiring practices and to combat the unlawful employment of illegal aliens.

Saints Medical Center President and CEO Stephen Guimond and the Special Agent in Charge of ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Boston, Bruce M. Foucart, signed the IMAGE or "ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers," agreement during a ceremony at the health care center in Lowell, Mass.

"IMAGE is a voluntary program that allows private industry to partner with ICE to reduce unauthorized employment and the use of fraudulent identity documents," Foucart said. "We recognize Saints Medical Center for its bold commitment to healthy living with a pledge to maintain a healthy work environment for its employees as well as patients."

Saints Medical Center is a not-for-profit, full service, acute care community hospital serving Greater Lowell and the Merrimack Valley since 1839. A 157-bed licensed medical center, Saints provides advanced health services to 315,000 residents in 25 towns. With nearly 400 physicians and 1,300 employees, Saints Medical Center is well known for outstanding medical care and patient-centered facilities including its centers of excellence in cancer care, orthopedics, cardiovascular services and women's health.

"Saints values its partnership with the IMAGE program as a demonstration of leadership in the community," said Guimond. "We are pleased to serve as a role model in this program to improve efficiencies in our human resources department and in our overall hiring process."

To qualify for IMAGE certification, Saints Medical Center 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;
  • Trained their staffs on IMAGE Best Practices and how to use the new screening tools; and
  • Underwent a Form I-9 audit conducted by ICE.

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.

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 call the ICE office in Boston at (617) 565-6286, or visit www.ICE.gov/image.