ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A New Mexico business partnered with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) on Friday by joining “IMAGE,” or ICE Mutual Agreement between Government Employers.
New Mexico Emergency Products (NMEP), an emergency vehicle up-fitter and fleet management company, joined ICE’s employment-compliance program — a voluntary partnership that helps employers maintain a lawful workforce, and reduce unauthorized employment and the use of fraudulent identity documents.
Under this agreement, NMEP becomes the eighth New Mexico business to join IMAGE.
Gabriel Padilla, operations manager for NMEP, represented the company at a signing ceremony; Jack P. Staton, special agent in charge for HSI El Paso, Texas, represented ICE. NMEP employs 12 workers in Albuquerque and is a subsidiary of Soncell North America, which has its corporate office in Santee, California.
To qualify for IMAGE certification, partners must agree to a variety of conditions:
- 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 ICE.
Padilla said being a certified IMAGE program member will help his company comply with immigration law. “Our clients in the law enforcement community place their trust on our team and our services and being an IMAGE partner speaks well of our company and its resolve to maintain integrity in our hiring practices,” he said.
Undocumented workers secure jobs through fraudulent means such as presenting false documents, completing fraudulent benefit applications and stealing someone’s identity. To combat unlawful employment and reduce vulnerabilities that help illegal aliens gain such employment, the ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers (IMAGE) program was announced in July 2006. This program assists employers to develop a more secure and stable workforce. It also enhances fraudulent document awareness through education and training.
IMAGE now offers a formal membership certification program that focuses on exceptional employers that have the ability to effect change within their industry or region. These employers also serve as an example and role model in the business community while highlighting the importance and viability of immigration compliance.
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 their Forms I-9 fraudulent document detection and building a solid immigration compliance model.
IMAGE members will also learn about the importance of avoiding discrimination in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act’s anti-discrimination provision §274B.8U.S.C.§1324b.
The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices enforces the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act § 274B, 8 U.S.C. § 1324b. This statute prohibits discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee that is based on an individual's national origin or citizenship status. The statute also prohibits discrimination during the employment eligibility verification (Form I-9 and E-Verify) process (document abuse), and retaliation or intimidation. For more information visit: http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/osc/.