EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Two El Paso businesses recently partnered with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in order to improve corporate hiring practices and reduce unauthorized employment.
Transmountain Corral LLC, DBA Golden Corral, and Access Communications Group LLC, partnered with “IMAGE”, or ICE Mutual Agreement between Government Employers. The buffet-style restaurant and communications firm joined more than 15 other businesses that are IMAGE partners in the SAC El Paso area of responsibility, which extends from Alpine, Texas, to Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Undocumented workers may secure jobs through fraudulent means, such as presenting false documents, completing fraudulent benefit applications and stealing the identity of legal U.S. workers. The IMAGE program helps combat unlawful employment and reduce vulnerabilities that help noncitizens gain such employment.
“HSI is committed to upholding the laws that govern labor exploitation. These laws help protect jobs for U.S. citizens and others who are lawfully employed, reduce the incentive of illegal migration, eliminate unfair competitive advantages for companies that hire an illegal workforce, and ultimately help strengthen public safety and national security,” SAC Burrola said.
Transmountain Corral LLC, DBA Golden Corral, is an American restaurant chain that offers an all-you-can-eat buffet and grill. It is a privately held company headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, with locations in 43 U.S. states. The Transmountain location employs 56 workers.
Established in 1996, ACG has been in business for over 24 years. A minority owned business. ACG manages large-scale and small-scale projects from construction and security cameras to IT engineering and audio visual services. Its customers include the Department of the Interior, Department of Defense, German Air Force, NASA, as well as multiple school districts. It has 27 employees.
Julio Chairez, general manager of the Transmountain Golden Corral, and Ana Espinoza, president and CEO of ACG, represented their companies on Wednesday’s formal signing event with SAC Burrola.
Espinoza, who has taken advantage of IMAGE trainings offered by HSI, said: “As a small business that is growing rapidly, we need to make sure we stay in compliance. Along the journey to become an IMAGE partner, we have learned valuable lessons and the support offered to us was unparalleled! We are grateful that we were able to learn and avoid common pitfalls growing businesses may see when their focus is not on compliance. The IMAGE program is one I would recommend to any and all businesses – large or small. IMAGE trainings I attended gave me the opportunity to see the deficiencies and risks we may have taken if we didn’t partner with IMAGE.”
To qualify for IMAGE certification, partners must agree to the following conditions:
- conduct a self-assessment of their hiring practices to uncover vulnerabilities that could be exploited by unauthorized workers;
- enroll in E-Verify, an employment eligibility verification program;
- train staff on IMAGE Best Employment Practices and the use of new screening tools; and
- undergo a Form I-9 audit by ICE.
IMAGE now offers a formal membership certification program that focuses on exceptional employers that have the ability to effect change within their industry or region. These employers also serve as an example and role model in the business community while highlighting the importance and viability of immigration compliance.
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 HSI believe will become an industry standard. IMAGE also provides free training to all employers on the provisions surrounding their Forms I-9 fraudulent document detection and building a solid immigration compliance model.
IMAGE members will also learn about the importance of avoiding discrimination in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act’s anti-discrimination provision §274B.8U.S.C.§1324b.
The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices enforces the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act § 274B, 8 U.S.C. § 1324b. This statute prohibits discrimination in hiring, firing or recruitment or referral for a fee that is based on an individual’s national origin or citizenship status. The statute also prohibits discrimination during the employment eligibility verification (Form I-9 and E-Verify) process (document abuse), and retaliation or intimidation.
For more information click here.
Companies interested in more information on the IMAGE program can click here.
HSI El Paso conducts IMAGE-training presentations. The training sessions are free to employers after making a reservation.
For more information, El Paso business owners should contact the HSI El Paso IMAGE coordinator at (915) 857-6150 or (915) 857-6370.
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