HOUSTON - Four Houston-area employers are the newest members of the "IMAGE" program with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Short for "ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers," IMAGE provides businesses an opportunity to partner with the agency to develop a more secure and stable workforce.
The following four employers have signed agreements to participate in the IMAGE program:
- BMI Defense Systems Inc., a force-protection developer specializing in survivability equipment and accessories;
- TPI Staffing Inc., a Houston-owned company that provides staffing services to administrative, accounting, finance, IT and engineering firms;
- Digna Corporation, a female minority-owned general contractor dedicated to building homes;
- and L.K. Jordan and Associates, one of the largest privately owned professional recruiting and staffing firms in south Texas with local and national clients.
"The IMAGE partnership between ICE and employers ensures a high standard of integrity for our workforces," said John Connolly, deputy special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Houston. "IMAGE program members increase the reputation of their brand and company."
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 workers. The IMAGE program provides employers with screening tools to prevent unauthorized workers from being hired.
"We are better able to identify fraudulent documents as a result of the training that ICE has provided," said Vickie Botkin, vice president accounting systems for TPI Staffing Inc. "As a full-service staffing company, we provide employees for a wide variety of industries. Participation in the IMAGE certification process has helped us by ensuring that our staff is trained in the proper procedures for completing I-9's, processing E-Verify, and that the employees that we provide to our clients are authorized to work."
The IMAGE program was initiated in 2007 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 staffs 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.
Associate 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 I-9 forms, maintain employment records, and otherwise comply with U.S. laws on 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.
Houston-area employers interested in the IMAGE program may contact the local coordinator at (281) 985-0500.