Human Resources is willing to implement the E-Verify and IMAGE programs as discussed in previous workshops.
IMAGE is a joint initiative between government and the business community to restore integrity to the U.S. immigration system by strengthening hiring practices. See attached IMAGE Program Outline. On Page 2, "How Can My Business Participate in IMAGE?” it outlines what businesses must do to participate in IMAGE. As outlined:
· We must apply to participate in IMAGE
· We must provide an executive summary outlining our current hiring practices and submit to an I-9 audit by ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement)
· We will be committed to use E-Verify to check the employment eligibility of all new hires
· We would have to develop an internal training program for employees with hiring authority and ensure only trained personnel are involved in the hiring process and conduct the training annually
· Arrange for annual I-9 audits by an external auditing firm or a trained employee not otherwise involved in the I-9 process.
· Communicate IMAGE guidelines to other companies in the participant’s hiring network and to contractors, with the ultimate goal of incorporating IMAGE guidelines into relationships with those companies
· Designate an employee within the company as a point of contact for the IMAGE program
· Establish a channel for employees to report activity relating to the employment of unauthorized aliens
· Ensure and document the definitive resolution of “no-match letters” received from the Social Security Administration (SSA), per SSA and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) guidance.
· Establish and maintain appropriate policies, practices and safeguards against the use of the verification process for unlawful discrimination.
· Establish a record-keeping program to track the number of employees removed and potential employees denied employment as a result of participation in the IMAGE program.
· Develop and implement retrieval protocols for prompt delivery of records, such as I-9 Forms, to ICE if the need arises.
This is a FREE program but as you can see above will require quite a bit of Human Resources time to comply with all of the above. Once we begin using this program, we are committed to it. There can be fines or penalties imposed. However, by enrolling in this program the program outline states that we would receive a two-year respite from Form I-9 audits/inspections and in the event that a business faces civil penalties for employing illegal workers, good faith participation in IMAGE will be considered as a mitigating factor in the amount of fines, should they be levied under the employer sanctions provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
The Board inquired about the language that may be put in future contracts and asked that I check with Hillsborough County to see what language they are using. See attached e-mail from George Williams, Director, Human Resources at Hillsborough County Government. Mr. William states that their only obligation is to “communicate IMAGE guidelines to other companies in the hiring network and contractors and subcontractors. Work toward incorporating IMAGE guidelines into relationships and agreements with these companies and establish a protocol for assessing the adherence to the Best Employment Practices guidelines by the company’s contractors and subcontractors.” They communicate about their participation in IMAGE and they utilize E-Verify but then it is the responsibility of the contractor or subcontractor to use a legal workforce. Additionally, in that same e-mail, you will see that Ms. Catherine Elrabi states that the language that will be used in their contracts is a work in progress and will be provided to Special Agent David Younanof and we should work directly with him on our language.