ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — During a ceremony Friday, two New Mexico businesses were certified as ICE “IMAGE” partners, standing for: ICE Mutual Agreement Between Government and Employers.
IMAGE is a voluntary program that allows private industry to partner with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to reduce unauthorized employment and the use of fraudulent identity documents. ICE is striving to achieve the highest level of workforce integrity throughout the country by coordinating closely with industry partners.
Retreat Healthcare and International Protective Service Inc. (IPS), which provides security and investigative services, signed an agreement with ICE becoming the latest full IMAGE partners in New Mexico.
Retreat Healthcare is a family of the following healthcare organizations: Hospice de la Luz, The Retreat Alzheimer’s specialty care, assisted living at the Retreat Gardens and Retreat Villas, and home care through the Retreat at Home. These organizations have a staff of 220 nurses, caregivers, human resource specialists and educators.
“Joining IMAGE is one of many ways Retreat Healthcare is ensuring the quality and integrity of its workforce for all of the families we serve,” said Amberlyn Gaspar, site coordinator for Retreat. She and Haeli Miceli, director of operations, represented Retreat at the signing ceremony.
Another new IMAGE parter, International Protective Service Inc. (IPS), was founded in 2006 and has 105 employees. Its security and investigative services are based in Albuquerque, Phoenix and Midland, Texas. Among other services, IPS provides armed security guard services, uniformed officers, executive protection, bodyguards and K-9 units throughout the United States. IPS was the subject of an I-9 Form audit and afterward voluntarily applied to join the IMAGE program.
Aaron T. Jones, former law enforcement officer and founder of IPS, said his company hires “the best police, military, and security personnel, and applies the best solutions available to deliver the highest value to our clients.” Becoming an IMAGE partner demonstrates IPS’s commitment to this statement.
Waldemar Rodriguez, special agent in charge of HSI El Paso, said unauthorized workers can create vulnerabilities in today's marketplace by presenting false documents to gain employment, completing fraudulent applications for benefits, and stealing identities of U.S. citizens and other authorized workers.
ICE established the IMAGE program in 2006 to work toward a legal and more secure work force. It provides private companies with education and training on proper hiring procedures, including use of employment screening tools such as E-Verify. IMAGE-certified companies also undergo an audit of their I-9 forms to ensure their current employees are eligible to work in the United States.
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; New Mexico-based companies can also call HSI Albuquerque at 505-452-4934.