Cutrale Citrus Juices USA, Inc., and the Boards of County Commissioners for Hernando, Pasco and Citrus counties officially became IMAGE partners at a signing ceremony in Tampa Thursday, partnering with ICE to ensure a more secure workforce and to enhance fraudulent document awareness through education and training. The IMAGE program, or ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers, is a voluntary program that helps employers comply with the law by equipping them with the knowledge and tools needed to ensure a legal, authorized workforce.
"In today's world, employers have a responsibility to protect the integrity of their labor force by ensuring that their employees are who they represent themselves to be and that they are legally authorized to work in this country," said Susan McCormick, special agent in charge of ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Tampa. "We realize that the highest level of employment integrity can only be achieved through close coordination with local employers, such as these."
Cutrale Citrus Juices USA, Inc. is headquartered in Auburndale, Fla., has offices in Leesburg and Dade City, Fla., and employs 581 people. Cutrale, which began operations in 1996 in Auburndale, is a producer and distributor of frozen fruits, fruit juices and vegetables and is a subsidiary of Brazil's largest citrus processor, Sucocitrico Cutrale Ltd.
Hernando County employs 803; Pasco County employs 1,932; and Citrus County employs 920.
Other recent IMAGE agreements in Florida include Tampa Electric, TECO Energy, Inc., Avant Healthcare Professionals, LLC, Naples Hilton, CHEP USA, The Tampa Banking Company, Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority, and the Hillsborough County, Board of County Commissioners. The agreements with these organizations, and the four new ones, represent 58 hiring sites and more than 17,000 employees.
To qualify for IMAGE certification, partners agree to enroll in E-verify, have written hiring policies that include a self-audit, and undergo an ICE form I-9 audit.
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 of 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 Tampa at (813) 357-7000 or visit www.ICE.gov/image.