DALLAS — Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) on Monday presented a certificate to Rockwall County to become the first Texas county to become an “IMAGE” member.
IMAGE stands for ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers. The IMAGE program was established in July 2006 to combat unlawful employment, and reduce vulnerabilities that allow illegal aliens to gain such employment. This voluntary program assists employers to develop a more secure and stable workforce. It also enhances fraudulent document awareness through education and training.
Rockwall County is the first and only county government in Texas to sign an IMAGE Agreement, and is now an IMAGE-Certified Member.
“While Rockwall County is the smallest out of the 254 counties in the State of Texas in miles, we are one of the fastest growing counties, in not only the State of Texas, but also the United States,” said Rockwall County Judge David Sweet. “With population growth, comes diversity, and in an effort to accommodate a more diverse workforce within our organization, I feel that entering into the IMAGE agreement with ICE is proactive and appropriate. We are appreciative of the training and privileged to be the first county in Texas to enter into this agreement.”
Following are the steps Rockwall County and all IMAGE organizations take:
- An IMAGE Agreement was first signed with Rockwall County on July 25, 2017, which then became an IMAGE “Partner.” All IMAGE Partners agree to use E-Verify to help verify the employment eligibility of all new hires. E-Verify provides employers with an automated link to government records to help confirm the employment eligibility of new hires.
- All IMAGE Partners volunteer to have their Forms I-9 inspected by HSI auditors. All Forms I-9 for current employees of Rockwall County were inspected by HSI Dallas auditors. The inspection was recently completed.
- All IMAGE Partners agree to create hiring and employment eligibility verification procedures to assist in preventing the employment of unauthorized workers while not discriminating against work authorized individuals. Included among the procedures, an IMAGE Member must conduct annual internal Form I-9 audits. After the signing of the IMAGE Agreement, Rockwall County established the required procedures.
- ICE provided the following on-site training to Rockwall County regarding:
- Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification) Training;
- Avoiding Immigration-Related Discrimination During the Hiring Process Training;
- Fraudulent Document Detection Training; and
- IMAGE Best Practices Training.
After the IMAGE Certificate is presented, organizations become an “IMAGE Member.”
By voluntarily participating in the IMAGE program, companies can reduce unauthorized employment and the use of fraudulent identity documents. As part of IMAGE, ICE provides education and training on proper hiring procedures, fraudulent document detection and use of the E-Verify employment eligibility verification program. 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/.