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Worksite Enforcement

San Diego-area employer joins IMAGE program

SAN DIEGO — A San Diego-based company that specializes in metal finishing services has partnered with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) by joining the agency's employment compliance program IMAGE, or "ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers."

Symcoat Metal Processing Inc. was certified as an IMAGE member earlier this month. IMAGE is a voluntary partnership that helps employers maintain a lawful workforce and reduce the use of fraudulent identity documents.

"I am pleased to welcome Symcoat Metal Processing to our IMAGE family. The alliance with ICE underscores the company's commitment to protecting the integrity of its workforce," said Derek Benner, special agent in charge for HSI San Diego. "When employers strive to maintain a lawful workforce, it's good for their business and it's good for the community."

Symcoat Metal Processing Inc. has been in business for more than 20 years. Its customer base includes companies in a wide variety of manufacturing sectors, including defense, aerospace, medical, bio-tech, electronics and sports equipment. It is the ninth business to become a certified IMAGE member in the HSI San Diego area of responsibility.

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.

Companies interested in more information on the IMAGE program can call HSI San Diego at 619-550-5205 or visit www.ICE.gov/image.