Should Alabama Employers Consider Joining IMAGE?

What is IMAGE?  IMAGE stand for ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employer.   In my words, IMAGE is a government  outreach program to emphasize compliance relating to worksite enforcement.  IMAGE used to be considered by some as the bad boys club for employers who were facing significant liability for poor immigration practices and were forced to join the club as a remedial effort.  However, ICE made some changes to IMAGE in an attempt to improve its programs image.

I recently heard Adam Wilson, Section Chief of ICE, provide ICEs new selling points to employers to join IMAGE.  The employer must:

1.  Enroll in E-Verify within 60 days.  (Pursuant to the Alabama immigration law, all Alabama employers should already be enrolled in E-Verify);

2.  Establish a written hiring and employment eligiblity verification policy that includes internal Form I-9 audits at least once per year (No one knows how extensive or comprehensive the annual audit must be); and

3.  Submit to a Form I-9 inspection by ICE (Now thats something to think through before agreeing to it).

To entice employers to consider joining IMAGE, ICE will do the following:

1.  Waive potential fines if substantive violations are found on fewer than 50% of the employers I-9 forms (From my experience, some employers might exceed the 50% threshold);

2.  In the event more than 50% of the I-9 forms have substantive violations, mitigate the fines or fine at the  minimum of $110 per violation;

3.  Not conduct another I-9 inspection for two years (Is two years long enough?); and

4. Train the employer before, during and after the I-9 inspection (ICE probably provides good training, but the training is probably  from ICEs perspective only and not from the perspective of other government agencies such as the OSC).

Any takers?   There are definite pros, but there could be significant cons depending on the circumstances.  Definitely seek counsel before signing on the dotted line.