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ICE praises companies for meeting standards of agency's IMAGE program

Program helps employers to hire and maintain a legal workforce

PHOENIX - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials today praised the commitment of four Arizona companies to meeting workforce compliance standards through the ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers (IMAGE) program.

The four companies, Sundt Construction, TASER International, First Credit Union and Hire Standards, established a formal partnership with ICE to follow the best employment practices recommended by the program. To qualify for IMAGE certification, the companies trained their staffs to uphold the program's high standards and use the screening tools offered by the federal government to ensure employees are legally authorized to work.

"Thank you for partnering with ICE to promote national security by ensuring the integrity of your workforces," said Matt Allen, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Arizona. "Your commitment to meeting the rigorous standards of this program are an example to all those in your industry. It's also a signal to your clients and business partners that you care about your brand."

IMAGE membership begins with a self-assessment of hiring practices to uncover vulnerabilities that could be exploited by illegal aliens. Technical tools that screen job applicants are integrated with the program's best employment practices to assure that employees are legally eligible to work. Those tools include E-Verify, a free Internet-based employment eligibility verification system offered by the Department of Homeland Security in conjunction with the Social Security Administration.

"Sundt has a long history of supporting federal agencies in their efforts to improve the lives of all Americans," said Sundt Chairman and CEO J. Doug Pruitt, "and we are proud to be the first general contractor company in the United States to become a full ICE IMAGE partner. Many people wrongly believe that construction companies hire illegal workers because they want cheap labor. The truth is that we need a highly skilled workforce, and our focus is on developing the skills of legal residents so they can become productive members of our industry."

"First Credit Union is proud to be the first financial institution in the United States focused on protecting our workforce integrity," said Pat Richardson, human resources manager for First Credit Union. "We take every opportunity to educate our employees and protect our data from potential fraud - at First Credit Union, proactively serving our members unique financial needs is our business."

"TASER International is proud to be a certified corporate member of ICE's IMAGE program," said Peter Holran, TASER International vice president for public relations and government affairs. "By implementing the IMAGE program's best practices for proper employment hiring, TASER believes it is not only maintaining the integrity of our workforce, but also is contributing in a small but meaningful way to our nation's homeland security by reducing unauthorized employment and the use of fraudulent identity documents."

 "Thanks to the IMAGE program I can sleep at night, knowing that my clients have a legal force they can rely on, and that my company complies with the law," said Eugenia Mena, founder and owner of Phoenix-based staffing company Hire Standards.

ICE is responsible for enforcing the nation's immigration and customs laws. One known vulnerability is the presence of unauthorized alien workers who have secured jobs by fraudulent means, including use of false documents, completion of fraudulent benefit applications and identity theft. To combat unlawful employment and reduce vulnerabilities that unauthorized aliens exploit to gain such employment, ICE initiated the IMAGE program in 2006. The goal is to assist employers to develop more secure and stable workforces and to enhance awareness of fraudulent documents through education and training.