Regional companies seek to improve job screenings

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The IMAGE program has been in effect since 2006 to help employers develop a safer and more stable workforce. It also improves awareness of fraudulent documents through education and training.

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Two El Paso companies recently partnered with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) to improve corporate hiring practices and reduce unauthorized employment.

Transmountain Corral LLC, DBA Golden Corral and Access Communications Group LLC, have partnered with “IMAGE”, or ICE Mutual Agreement between Government Employers. The buffet-style restaurant and communications company joined more than 15 other IMAGE partner companies in SAC El Paso’s area of ​​responsibility, which stretches from Alpine, Texas to Albuquerque, New Mexico.

HSI welcomes and commends both companies for their commitment not only to protecting the integrity of their workforce, but also to maintaining best practices in hiring. Companies that choose to join IMAGE help reduce unauthorized employment and the use of fraudulent identity documents that can put our national security at risk.

Frank B. Burrola, HSI El Paso Special Agent

Undocumented workers may obtain jobs through fraudulent means, such as presenting false documents, filing fraudulent benefit claims, and stealing the identities of legal American workers. The IMAGE program helps combat illegal employment and reduce vulnerabilities that help non-citizens obtain such employment.

“HSI is committed to upholding the laws that govern labor exploitation. These laws help protect the jobs of U.S. citizens and other legally employed people, reduce the incentive for illegal migration, eliminate unfair competitive advantages for companies that hire illegal labor, and ultimately account, to strengthen public safety and national security,” said SAC Burrola.

Transmountain Corral LLC, DBA Golden Corral, is an American restaurant chain that offers an all-you-can-eat buffet and grill. It is a private company headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, with offices in 43 US states. The Transmountain location employs 56 workers.

Founded in 1996, ACG has been in business for over 24 years. A minority-owned business. ACG handles large and small-scale projects ranging from construction and security cameras to computer engineering and audio visual services. Its customers include the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Defense, the German Air Force, NASA, as well as several school districts. It has 27 employees.

Julio Chairez, General Manager of Transmountain Golden Corral, and Ana Espinoza, President and CEO of ACG, represented their companies at Wednesday’s official signing event with SAC Burrola.

We decided to become an IMAGE partner to help our company improve our new hires’ compliance and our business practices. We recommend all small businesses join IMAGE to avoid costly fines due to I-9 non-compliance and/or document errors. IMAGE appealed to us because it is absolutely free and we see it as a tool or service provided by HSI to help train us as employers.

Julio Chairez, general manager of the Transmountain Golden Corral

Espinoza, who has taken advantage of IMAGE training offered by HSI, said, “As a small, rapidly growing company, we need to make sure we stay compliant. Along the journey to becoming an IMAGE partner, we learned valuable lessons and the support we received was unparalleled! We are grateful that we were able to learn and avoid common pitfalls that growing businesses can encounter when not focusing on compliance. The IMAGE program is the one I would recommend to any business, big or small. The IMAGE trainings I attended gave me the opportunity to see the shortcomings and the risks that we could have taken if we were not partners of IMAGE.

To benefit from 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;
  • register for E-Verify, an employment eligibility verification program;
  • train staff in the best practices for using IMAGE and the use of new selection tools; and
  • undergo a Form I-9 audit by ICE.

IMAGE now offers a formal membership certification program that focuses on exceptional employers who 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 emphasizing 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 nationwide and is free to employers. It provides an automated link to the Social Security Administration database and DHS immigration records.

Upon enrollment and commitment to IMAGE Employment Best Practices, program participants are considered “IMAGE Certified,” a distinction that DHS and HSI believe will become an industry standard. IMAGE also offers free training to all employers on the provisions for detecting fraudulent documents on Forms I-9 and creating a robust immigration compliance model.

IMAGE members will also learn the importance of avoiding discrimination in violation of the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act §274B.8U.SC§1324b.

The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices enforces the anti-discrimination provision of Immigration and Nationality Act § 274B, 8 USC § 1324b. This law prohibits discrimination in hiring, firing or recruiting or referral for a fee based on an individual’s national origin or citizenship status. The law also prohibits discrimination during the Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9 and E-Verify) process (misuse of documents), as well as retaliation or intimidation.

For more information, click here.

Companies wishing to obtain more information on the IMAGE program can click here.

HSI El Paso hosts IMAGE training presentations. Training is free for employers after booking.

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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