U.S. Department of Homeland Security Announces Initiative to Help Employers Ensure the Legal Status of Their Workforce

Monday, January 1, 2007
by Jackson Lewis

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security ("DHS"), announced a new initiative to help employers ensure they are building a legal workforce. The program, called the ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers ("IMAGE"), is designed to "partner" government and business in the pursuit of one common objective: the reduction of the unlawful employment of illegal aliens.

Under the program, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) will provide training and education to IMAGE registrants on proper hiring procedures, fraudulent document detection and anti-discrimination laws. ICE will also review the hiring and employment practices of employers and work with them to correct minor compliance issues.

ICE is encouraging companies to take advantage of the IMAGE program and become "IMAGE certified." To become IMAGE certified an employer must complete the following three steps:
  1. agree to a Form I-9 audit by ICE;
  2. implement the DHS Basic Pilot Employment Verification program, which conditions employment upon an affirmative finding by DHS that the employee is authorized to be employed in the United States; and
  3. adhere to a series of best practices enumerated by ICE.
Employers should carefully evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of participating in the IMAGE program. While participation in the program will ensure that employees have been positively vetted by DHS, it may also preclude employers from employing persons who are authorized to be employed in the United States under the present I-9 regulations but are having database problems at DHS or the Social Security Administration.
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