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Worksite Enforcement
07/18/2012

San Diego-area business joins ICE's IMAGE program

Firm is 11th local employer to become certified IMAGE member

SAN DIEGO – An Escondido-based commercial framing company has become the latest employer headquartered in the San Diego area to partner with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in a program designed to strengthen hiring practices and combat the unlawful employment of illegal aliens.

S&H Contracting Inc., which has been in business more than 20 years, was certified as a member of the IMAGE program (ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers) earlier this month. The contract company is licensed in California, Arizona and Nevada.

IMAGE is a voluntary partnership that helps employers maintain a lawful workforce and reduce the use of fraudulent identity documents.

"It is my pleasure to welcome S&H Contracting Inc. to our IMAGE family," said Derek Benner, special agent in charge for HSI San Diego. "The newly formed partnership with ICE underscores the company's commitment to protect the integrity of its workforce and to foster best hiring practices. When employers strive to maintain a lawful workforce, it's good for their business and it's good for the economy."

S&H Contracting Inc. was founded by two contractors with decades of experience in building high-end commercial and residential projects, including hotels, restaurants and churches in Southern California and Arizona. The company coordinates weekly apprenticeship classes at its onsite training facility and supports several high school athletic programs in San Diego's North County.

Undocumented workers create vulnerabilities in today's marketplace by presenting false documents to gain employment, completing applications for fraudulent benefits, and stealing identities of legally authorized workers. To combat this, ICE initiated the IMAGE program in 2006.

To qualify for IMAGE certification, partners agree to conduct a self-assessment of their hiring practices to uncover vulnerabilities that could be exploited by unauthorized workers; enroll in E-verify, an employment eligibility verification program; train staff on IMAGE Best Employment Practices and the use of new screening tools; and undergo a Form I-9 audit by HSI.

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 free training to all employers on the provisions surrounding 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 HSI San Diego at 619-550-5205 or visit www.ICE.gov/image.