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3 Mississippi businesses become IMAGE partners with ICE

VT Halter Marine, United States Marine, INC. and DCD Construction, INC. sign agreements

BILOXI, Miss. – Three Mississippi businesses signed agreements today with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to become members of the IMAGE program, short for "ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers." VT Halter Marine, United States Marine, INC., and DCD Construction, INC., joined IMAGE, which provides businesses an opportunity to partner with the agency to develop a more secure and stable workforce.

The three companies are part of only a handful of companies in the state that have undergone the rigorous IMAGE certification process. As part of this process, they have completed extensive training and rigorous evaluation of their hiring processes.

At the signing ceremony today, Raymond R. Parmer, Jr., special agent in charge of ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New Orleans said, "ICE recognizes that the highest level of employment integrity can only be achieved through close coordination with industry partners. VT Halter Marine, United States Marine, INC. and DCD Construction, INC. will join IMAGE business participants around the country who are committed to protecting the integrity of their workforce by helping ensure that their employees are who they represent themselves to be."

The companies echoed similar sentiments by saying their acceptance into the IMAGE program not only solidified their positions as responsible corporate citizens, it reaffirmed their pride in the diversity of their compliant workforce. The contributions of their workforce strengthen the economy and embody the American ideal of hard work. Undocumented workers create vulnerabilities in the marketplace by presenting false documents to gain employment, completing applications for fraudulent benefits and stealing identities of legal workers. The IMAGE program provides employers with screening tools to prevent unauthorized workers from being hired.

The IMAGE program was initiated in 2006 with partners from around the United States and a wide range of industries, including: employment services, aviation, transportation, construction, high technology, shipping and manufacturing. By signing the IMAGE contract for full membership, businesses establish a formal partnership with law enforcement to follow the best hiring practices recommended by the program, train their staff to uphold the high standards required by the program and use the tools offered by the federal government to screen employees and ensure they are lawfully authorized to work.

IMAGE members work with ICE to meet the standards set by the program. In addition, they partner with ICE officials to assess their business practices and improve the way they hire, process 1-9 forms, maintain employment records and otherwise comply with U.S. laws regarding employment. The E- Verify program is administered by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Through this program, employers can verify that newly hired employees are eligible to work in the United States. This Internet-based program is available in all 50 states and is free to employers. E-verify provides an automated link to the Social Security Administration database and Department of Homeland Security immigration records.

Mississippi-area employers interested in the IMAGE program may contact the local IMAGE coordinator at 1-866-DHS-2ICE.

For more information, visit www.ice.gov.