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02/05/2015

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Michigan food distributor partners with ICE

Michigan food distributor partners with ICE

DETROIT — A southeast Michigan food distributor became the latest employer Friday to partner with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) employment compliance program, IMAGE, or "ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers."

GKI Foods LLC of Brighton, has pledged to protect the integrity of their workforce by joining IMAGE. The partnership was marked Friday by an official signing at the company’s headquarters. IMAGE is a voluntary program that helps employers comply with the law by equipping them with the knowledge and tools needed to ensure a legal, authorized workforce.

"It's critical that companies with access to the American food supply chain maintain a compliant workforce. HSI views the IMAGE partnership as added value to the companies that participate," said Marlon Miller, ICE’s Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) Detroit special agent in charge.  "The certification process adds a level of distinction to the company that says not only are these companies committed to quality products, but they are also committed to maintaining a qualified and capable workforce."

"GKI is happy to partner with ICE and participate in the IMAGE program, thereby ensuring the integrity of our workforce," said John Weller, GKI general manager.

GKI employs 94 people at their Detroit-area facilities. The company provides high-end confections for national companies, including upscale retail stores and major pharmacy chains.

To qualify for IMAGE certification, partners agree to 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.

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.

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 the Form I-9, fraudulent document detection, and building a solid immigration compliance model.

Michigan companies interested in more information about the IMAGE program can call 313-226-0500 or visit ICE.gov/image.

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 02/09/2015