Bergelectric Corporation officially became the eighth IMAGE partner in San Diego at a signing ceremony Thursday, partnering with ICE to ensure a more secure workforce and to enhance fraudulent document awareness through education and training. The IMAGE program, or ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers, 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 is my pleasure to welcome Bergelectric as our newest IMAGE partner," said Derek Benner, special agent in charge for ICE HSI in San Diego. "Developing partnerships with the business community is part and parcel of our effort to create a culture of compliance in the workplace. Our IMAGE partners are provided tools and knowledge to protect the integrity of their labor force and ensure their employees are who they represent themselves to be and are legally authorized to work in this country."
Bergelectric has been in business since 1946 and provides electrical contractor services in San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Portland, Las Vegas, Denver, Austin, Raleigh and Orlando. The IMAGE agreement with this company represents more than 2,000 employees, which includes 640 employees who work at its offices in San Diego County.
"Bergelectric is proud to be a partner with U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security," said Frank Boecker, human resources manager for Bergelectic Corporation. "Bergelectric has always been a leader in the construction industry, and we hope to pave the way for other construction industry contractors to join the IMAGE program. We are thankful for the valuable assistance that the IMAGE Program, ICE, and John Murakami have provided Bergelectric Corp. Their assistance continues to provide us with the best employment practices possible, and helps to ensure a high level of integrity in our workforce."
Other IMAGE partners in San Diego include: Betz Concrete Inc., Pacific Rim Mechanical, Body Beautiful Car Wash, A-1 Fire Protection, San Diego Flight Training International, Unicel Corporation and Fluid Components International LLC. The agreements with these businesses represent 10 hiring sites and more than 600 employees.
To qualify for IMAGE certification, partners agree to enroll in E-verify, have written hiring policies that include a self-audit, and undergo an ICE form I-9 audit.
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 of 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 San Diego at (619) 550 - 5205 or visit www.ICE.gov/image.