Industry Yet to Embrace New Immigration Program
December 6, 2011

by Sahely Mukerji,

A new federal program that ensures that workers in this country are legal hasn’t quite impressed the glass community.

IMAGE, short for ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers, run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, provides training and technology to private companies that want to abide by immigration laws, but don’t have the expertise to spot phony documents.

"We were not previously aware of the federal IMAGE program although we have been voluntarily using a key component of that program - the E-Verify system - for several years,” says Steve Chen, executive vice president of Crystal Window & Door Systems in Flushing, N.Y. “ I believe the IMAGE program is intended for smaller companies with transient work forces.  Crystal Window & Door Systems is relatively large, enjoys a stable work force, has a well-trained human resources department [that] meticulously scrutinizes all employee hires, and has never had a problem with federal agencies. So, I don't see the need for, nor the applicability of, such a program for our company."

IMAGE provides tools to verify applicants or employees and to examine authenticity of immigration documents. These same tools are part of ICE’s E-Verify system that checks I-9 forms with data from Social Security and Homeland Security records.

“We do not use the IMAGE program at this time to verify employee status, [and] I don’t think it makes our job any easier or adds anything to our process.” says Steve Mort, CEO of Don’s Mobile Glass in Modesto, Calif. “We use the standard I-9 requirements, in addition, we also use a private company to do personal background checks, which verify that the employee’s social security number matches his or her name in the social security system in addition to check for any felony convictions within the U.S.  We also require a current Motor Vehicle Report from the Department of Motor Vehicles which verifies the validity of the driver’s license number and driving history.”

From its website, the IMAGE program looks like it’s best suited for smaller businesses that cannot afford an HR department. Even though the construction industry relies on the immigrant work force a fair bit, the glass company officials who agreed to speak to regarding the matter hadn’t signed up for the program.

“I don’t know much about the IMAGE program since we don’t use it,” says William C. Keen, executive vice president and CEO of TEPCO Contract Glazing Inc. in Dallas. “We do employ several legal immigrants, who are pretty good workers for our firm. We use E-verify to ensure we don’t employ illegal workers.”

This story is an original story by USGlass magazine/USGNN™. Subscribe to USGlass magazine.
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