BOSTON – A Massachusetts-based housing authority has signed the state's first-ever agreement between a local housing authority and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to strengthen hiring practices and to combat the unlawful employment of illegal aliens.
The Lowell Housing Authority has signed "IMAGE" or "ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers," a voluntary program that allows a partnership with ICE to reduce unauthorized employment and the use of fraudulent identity documents.
"This partnership enables ICE to recognize the highest level of employment integrity that promotes a healthy, safe, and productive work environment that can only be achieved with the cooperation of the entire community," said Bruce M. Foucart, special agent in charge of ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Boston. "We applaud the Lowell Housing Authority for joining IMAGE business participants around the country who are committed to protecting the integrity of their workforce by helping to ensure that their employees are lawfully represented."
The Lowell Housing Authority (LHA) was founded in 1937 and throughout its history has proudly achieved the highest performance rating from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The LHA serves the residents of the Lowell, Mass., with an unwavering commitment to provide safe, affordable housing for the people who need it most. LHA recognizes the ever changing needs of the community guided by prudent financial restraints of a public subsidy corporation.
"This partnership with ICE sends a clear message to other housing providers, local government, and our residents, that we recognize the benefits of promoting a legal workforce," said Gary K. Wallace, executive director of LHA. "We value our membership in this important program."
To qualify for IMAGE certification, LHA will perform the following requirements:
- Enroll in the E-Verify program within 60 days;
- Establish a written hiring and employment eligibility verification policy that includes internal Form I-9 audits at least once per year; and
- Submit to a Form I-9 inspection.
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 United States workers. To combat this, ICE initiated the IMAGE program in 2006.
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 to all employers free training on the Form I-9, fraudulent document detection, and building a solid immigration compliance model.
Companies interested in more information on the IMAGE program can call the ICE office in Boston at (617)565-6286, or visit www.ICE.gov/IMAGE.