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San Diego company joins ICE's IMAGE program

Firm is 10th local employer to become certified IMAGE member

SAN DIEGO – A female-owned small business that offers administrative and technology services to clients in multiple sectors has become the latest San Diego-based employer 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.

Cask LLC was certified as a member of the IMAGE program (ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers) earlier this month at its headquarters in San Diego. The company's offices in Phoenix; Stafford, Va.; and Navarre, Fla., are also part of the program.

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 Cask LLC to our IMAGE family," said Derek Benner, special agent in charge for HSI San Diego. "The alliance with ICE underscores the company's commitment to doing their part to protect the integrity of its workforce. When employers strive to maintain a lawful workforce, it's good for their business and it's good for the community."

Cask LLC was founded in 2004. Its customer base includes clients from the commercial, government, higher education and non-profit sectors. Cask LLC is the 10th San Diego-area business to become a certified IMAGE member.

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.

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 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.