EL PASO, Texas — Two El Paso restaurants on Thursday partnered with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) by joining “IMAGE,” or ICE Mutual Agreement between Government Employers.
- Carnitas Queretaro, a Mexican restaurant that employs 239 workers, 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.
- Garufa Argentinian Restaurant, with its 19 employees, signed an IMAGE agreement.
Carnitas Queretaro was certified as an IMAGE member and becomes the eighth El Paso business to join IMAGE; Garufa Argentinian Restaurant is on its way to complete the process to become a full member.
Carlos I. Sanchez, regional manager of Carnitas Queretaro, represented the company at a signing ceremony; Jack P. Staton, special agent in charge for HSI El Paso, Texas, represented ICE.
To qualify for IMAGE certification, partners must agree to the following 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.
“Hospitality, service and integrity have always been part of our core at Carnitas Queretaro; being an IMAGE member only solidifies our commitment to our guests and community,” said Carlos I. Sanchez, regional director for Carnitas Queretaro. “By partnering with HSI, we’re ensuring we comply with immigration law, and maintain integrity in our hiring practices.”
Sergio Muñoz, owner of Garufa Argentinian Restaurant, said: “Becoming an IMAGE partner will allow our company to grow with a strong foundation when it comes to hiring practices, providing the company with tools to efficiently screen our job applicants and confidently incorporate them into our team.”
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/.
Companies interested in more information on the IMAGE program can visit www.ICE.gov/image.
HSI El Paso is conducting its next IMAGE-training presentations as follows:
- Tuesday, July 23, 2019; and
- Thursday, July 25, 2019.
Both training sessions are free to employers after making a reservation, and will take place at the ICE Colocation Building, 11541 Montana Ave, El Paso, Texas.
For more information, El Paso businesses should contact the HSI El Paso IMAGE coordinator at (915) 857-6100.