Explaining the immigration program that should have kept Fresh Mark from hiring undocumented workers

Explaining the immigration program that should have kept Fresh Mark from hiring undocumented workers
Northeast Ohio raids at Fresh Mark locations have taken 146 workers into custody. ((Source: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office rolled out a program in 2006 that tried to help companies, like Fresh Mark, hire employees legal to work in this country.

The ICE program is called Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers (IMAGE) and is completely voluntary for companies to join.

The website for IMAGE describes the program as a way for employers to use the government and its systems to make sure the documents provided by a new hire are in fact legitimate.

"Undocumented workers secure jobs through fraudulent means such as presenting false documents, completing fraudulent benefit applications and stealing someone's identity," according to the IMAGE website.

A company can become IMAGE certified by completing a couple of tasks including having a written hiring policy, agreeing to have their I-9 forms inspected, and signing up for, and use, the government's E-Verify system.

Before any employer can hire someone they must fill out an I-9 form which is an employment eligibility verification form for the government.

E-Verify is a system that can verify a person's identity and employment eligibility of a person.

Why would a company sign up for IMAGE?

There are a couple of benefits a company gets when it becomes IMAGE certified.

One, they are working with the government to help make sure they are hiring legal workers.

"U.S. companies face fines and owners face possible imprisonment if they violate laws related to employment and employment eligibility," the IMAGE website explains.

Secondly, if a company has followed all the IMAGE policies they can reduce, or avoid, penalties if it's found workers have provided fake documents but were still able to pass all of the employment checks.

According to the IMAGE site here is what ICE is willing to do for such companies:

  • ICE will waive potential fines if substantive violations are discovered on fewer than 50 percent of the required Forms I-9.

  • In instances where more than 50 percent of the Forms I-9 contain substantive violations, ICE will mitigate fines or issue fines at the statutory minimum of $216 per violation.

  • ICE will not conduct another Form I-9 inspection of the company for a two-year period.

  • ICE will provide information and training before, during and after inspection.

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