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El Paso businesses join ICE program that helps employers hire legal workforce

EL PASO, Texas - Two car dealerships and a temporary employment agency Friday joined a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program to ensure the employees they hire are legally authorized to work in the United States.

Hoy Fox Toyota/Lexus, Mission Chevrolet, and Southwest Staffing Inc. established a formal partnership with ICE's Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers or more commonly called "IMAGE."

The three local businesses qualified for IMAGE certification by training their staffs to comply with the program's standards, and to use screening tools offered by the federal government to prevent them from hiring unauthorized workers.

"Through this partnership with ICE, these local businesses are ensuring the integrity of their staffs, as well as promoting national security," said Manual Oyola-Torres, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigation in El Paso. "We welcome other employers to join IMAGE to help reduce vulnerabilities that illegal aliens use to secure jobs."

A known vulnerability is the presence of undocumented workers who gain employment by fraudulent means, including presentation of false documents, completion of fraudulent benefit applications and theft of identities.

IMAGE, which was initiated in 2007, assists employers develop a more secure and stable work force as well as enhance awareness about fraudulent document through education and training. By voluntarily participating in the program, employers can reduce unauthorized employment and the use of fraudulent identity documents. ICE IMAGE coordinators train employers on proper hiring procedures, fraudulent document detection, and use of the E-Verify employment eligibility verification program.

E-Verify 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 system is available in all 50 states and is free to employers. It provides an automated link to the Social Security Administration database and DHS immigration records.

"Southwest Staffing is proud to be a part of the ICE IMAGE program. The staffing industry is a very competitive industry and using the E-Verify process offers added security to our clients, as wells as provides us a competitive edge in our industry," said Sharon Olivarez, president of Southwest Staffing Inc.

Dawn Jensen, Mission Chevrolet comptroller, said, "In partnering with the ICE IMAGE program we have received training and insight to the best hiring employment practices to assure that our newly hired employees are legally authorized to work and become part of our Mission Chevrolet team."

Local employers may contact the IMAGE coordinator at (915) 231-3200 for more information.