While the Congressional debate regarding immigration law enforcement is mostly focused on mandatory E-Verify, namely House Judiciary Committee Chair Lamar Smith’s Legal Workforce Act and Senator Chuck Grassley’s Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act, another even tougher program is growing in popularity.
Called IMAGE, which stands for ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employer, it has strict guidelines for certification. ICE visits the premises, conducts a full I-9 audit and then physically checks each employee’s documents to guarantee that illegal alien workers haven’t stolen identification to gain employment.
Businesses enter into a formal partnership with ICE under which they agree to follow the hiring practices and screening tools IMAGE recommends to insure that all hires are legally authorized to work in the United States. Those tools include E-Verify.
Member companies will be trained on how to uncover vulnerabilities that illegal aliens exploit, such as document fraud, and on how to most effectively interview job applicants.
Full IMAGE members are subject to a government audit shortly after signing up; associate members have two years to fulfill the program’s requirements before an audit.
One of California’s most recently certified IMAGE partners is perhaps one of the most unlikely: Body Beautiful Car Washes with four locations in San Diego County, now America’s first car wash company to partner with IMAGE.
Traditionally, car washes have been associated with illegal alien employees many of whom work under the table for cash wages. Not only do illegal immigrants keep American workers out of jobs—many teenagers would love to have the work—but unreported income means that aliens pay no taxes to the state or federal government, an outrage given California’s continuing budget crisis.
Yogesh Mody, Body Beautiful’s president explained the three main reasons he signed up with IMAGE. First, he wants to take the document verification burden off his managers thereby making their jobs easier. Second, he wants to demonstrate to his customers that he is a responsible employer. Third, he wants his employees to know that he as owner is fair and honest in his hiring practices.
Noting that he has no trouble finding legal workers, especially in this economy, Mody said: "I have always tried to comply with hiring laws, but the IMAGE Program gives me the tools and resources to make it easy to hire legal workers. I sleep well at night knowing I am in full compliance with the law." [Car Wash Chain in San Diego Joins ICE IMAGE Program, by Jeff Schwilk, Examiner.com, July 12, 2011]
Between now and September 29, IMAGE will host a series of forums for interested employers in Seattle, Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Phoenix, New York City and San Diego. Check the ICE website for details.