WASHINGTON – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced today seven major employers in the U.S. including Best Western International, Chick-fil-A, Inc., Hyatt, Kelly Services, Lexmark, Smoothie King and Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America have agreed to partner with ICE by joining the agency's employment compliance program IMAGE, or "ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers." IMAGE promotes voluntary compliance and helps companies ensure they are maintaining a lawful workforce.
"These companies have made a commitment to protecting our nation's lawful workforce," said ICE Director John Morton. "This is not just about smart business; it's about doing what is right in the eyes of the law and supporting U.S. companies who are committed to hiring a legal workforce."
IMAGE is a voluntary program that allows businesses to partner with ICE to maintain a secure and stable workforce and curtail the employment of unauthorized workers through outreach and education. ICE recently revamped IMAGE, simplifying program requirements. Twenty-two companies have signed up since then.
IMAGE partners agree to use sound compliance practices, including voluntarily enrolling in E-Verify, an Internet-based system that compares information from an employee's Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, to data from U.S Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration records to confirm employment eligibility. They also agree to follow written hiring policies and engage in annual self-audits. Most significantly, they agree to submit to an ICE audit of the employment eligibility forms. The IMAGE program is part of ICE's overall worksite enforcement strategy, which targets employers who knowingly hire illegal labor.
In FY 2011, ICE:
- Conducted 2,496 I-9 audits, up from 503 in FY 2008
- Initiated 3,291 worksite enforcement cases, up from 1,191 in FY 2008
- Criminally arrested 221 employers, up from 135 in FY 2008
- Issued 385 Final Orders for $10,463,987 in fines, up from 18 Final Orders for $675,209 in fines in FY 2008
- Debarred 115 individuals and 97 businesses, compared to 0 individuals and 0 businesses in FY 2008