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EL PASO, Texas — Two El Paso businesses joined Homeland Security Investigations’ (HSI) IMAGE program, which helps employers strengthen their hiring practices and reduce unauthorized employment on June 23. On the same day, two other businesses renewed their memberships.

HSI El Paso’s IMAGE program’s new partners are the Region 19 Education Service Center and Workforce Solutions Borderplex. The two businesses renewing their memberships are Mission Chevrolet and El Paso Communication Systems, Inc.

There are 25 IMAGE partners in HSI El Paso’s area of responsibility, which extends from Alpine, Texas, to Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“HSI El Paso recognizes and welcomes these companies, which by partnering with IMAGE, are helping reduce the size of the unlawful workforce, sharing identified best practices among industry partners, and encouraging self-policing of employment practices within their fields,” said HSI El Paso Special Agent in Charge Francisco B. Burrola. “Along with our new partners, HSI can enhance workplace safety, labor rights, and bolster our nation’s security – making for a safer America.”

Undocumented workers may secure jobs through fraudulent means, such as presenting false documents, completing fraudulent benefit applications, and stealing the identities of legal U.S. workers. The IMAGE program helps combat unlawful employment and reduces vulnerabilities that help undocumented noncitizens gain such employment.

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.
  • Undergo a Form I-9 audit by ICE.

“Region 19 Education Service Center is continually seeking to improve its processes,” said David Valle, the center’s director of human resources and risk management. “The IMAGE program provides opportunity to review record-keeping related to Form I-9, obtain feedback from HSI experts, and an opportunity to enroll in the E-Verify system to further strengthen our procedures.”

The IMAGE program was announced in July 2006 to assist employers develop a more secure and stable workforce. It also enhances fraudulent document awareness through education and training.

IMAGE now offers a formal membership certification program that focuses on exceptional employers that can effect change within their industry or region. These employers also serve as examples and role models 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 also learn about the importance of avoiding discrimination in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act’s anti-discrimination provision.

The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices enforces the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act. 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.

Companies interested in more information on the IMAGE program can visit

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.

HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

Learn more about HSI El Paso’s activity in your community at @HSIElPaso.

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