Report From Our Presentation at the US Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) IMAGE Forum
The U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) hosted an IMAGE Forum in Chicago at the Drake Hotel June 28, 2011. I was happy to be in attendance, as well as Raul Ipina, Staff Management | SMX Centralized Services Operations Manager, and Margie Doyle, Director of Business Solutions at Staff Management | SMX. The Forum featured presentations by Beth Gibson, Assistant Deputy Director, ICE, Dave Basham, Management and Program Analyst, Citizenship and Immigration Services, and Jim Holmgren, Special Agent, Department of Homeland Security/ICE.
We were proud to have company Co-Founder and Vice President of Operations, Loree Lynch, present Staff Management | SMX’s road to IMAGE Charter Membership and the significant benefits our company has realized as a result of our partnership with IMAGE. Loree’s presentation can be viewed below if you would like to learn more about our experience with the IMAGE program and the associated benefits.
Beth Gibson was on hand to share why the changes to the IMAGE program are taking place and to answer questions both as a group and one-on-one with attendees and Dave Basham presented a live demonstration of the E-Verify software. In addition, Jim Holmgren led a session on how to detect fraudulent documents and there was a session on Employer Form I-9 compliance.
As a charter member of IMAGE it was important to attend the forum to share or experience with the program – both charter membership as well as the new program. Employers are naturally apprehensive about a new process, particularly a government program – even the ones who are doing the right thing. We thought it was important to share firsthand that although from the outside the process may seem daunting, in the end it is one of the most beneficial things you can do to ensure you stay in compliance with the law. Offering the newer, more flexible, requirements for IMAGE certification is making it easier for more employers to adopt best practices and improve compliance.
A few other takeaways from the forum:
- ICE implemented the changes to the IMAGE program to better encourage employers to partner with ICE. The strategy to change was compared to when libraries offer a day for members to return any missing library books they may be holding on to without incurring fees. In that instance, it is more important for the library to get their books back than it is to collect the overdue book fees. For ICE, it is more important to offer a “safe” way for employers to come into compliance with the program and ensure continued compliance than it is for them to continue with random employer raids that only reach a small percentage of overall employers.
- The new IMAGE program allows those companies that sign up a two-year “pass” – the company will not be included in the ICE audit pool for the two years following their initial audit. After those two years, the companies can then reapply for IMAGE membership.
- To learn more about the new IMAGE program you can read my recent blog post: The Newly Revamped IMAGE Program – How Changes May Affect You
ICE is continuing to hold IMAGE Forums throughout the next few months. The remaining forums are July 26 in Seattle, August 11 in Dallas, August 23 in Atlanta, September 8 in Phoenix and at a date TBD in New York City. You can register for any of the remaining forums at the IMAGE website. I would highly encourage interested companies to attend. It is a great way to learn more about the IMAGE program and get one-on-one time to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with ICE representatives.