ICE Announces New I-9 Compliance Inspection Center, Partnership With Tyson Foods; Audits Increase
February 8th, 2011
On January 20, 2011, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced the creation of an employment compliance inspection center in Crystal City, Virginia. At the center, 15 auditors will support ICE's worksite enforcement strategy by helping agency field offices around the country expedite employment authorization verification (Form I-9) audits of businesses selected for inspection by ICE. Currently, ICE employs 137 full-time auditors. The 15 additional auditors will focus their efforts on major investigations of the largest companies, ICE Director John Morton said.
From fiscal year 2009 to the present, ICE initiated I-9 inspections of 3,769 businesses across the U.S. Last year, ICE audited 2,200 companies, the largest number of audits the agency has conducted in a year.
ICE also announced the same day that Tyson Foods, Inc. is the newest member of the agency's nationwide program designed to encourage businesses to collaborate with ICE and use hiring best practices to ensure that they are maintaining a lawful workforce. Tyson Foods Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Ken Kimbro and ICE Director John Morton signed the "ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers" (IMAGE) during a ceremony at ICE headquarters.
Tyson Foods, Inc., which employs almost 100,000 people at locations throughout the U.S., is the first major food company to become a full member of ICE's IMAGE program. The voluntary program allows businesses to partner with ICE as part of their efforts to maintain an authorized workforce and protect themselves from the use of fraudulent identity documents by current or prospective employees. ICE said this program complements ICE's worksite enforcement strategy, which focuses on holding accountable employers that knowingly hire unauthorized workers to minimize operating costs and boost profits.
To become certified, Tyson was subject to an I-9 audit and other checks by ICE. The company met other IMAGE requirements with programs it already has in place. For example:
- Tyson conducts regular self-assessments or internal audits of its hiring activities. The company also uses an independent outside company to conduct its own audits of the company's hiring practices.
- Tyson voluntarily participates in the online government employment verification program known as E-Verify. The company also voluntarily uses the "Social Security Number Verification Service."
- Tyson trains all of its employment managers on the hiring process, proper completion of the I-9, and document examination and fraud detection.
ICE initiated the IMAGE program in 2006. All IMAGE members must participate in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) E-Verify employment eligibility verification program, which 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 designation DHS and ICE say will become an industry standard. IMAGE also provides employers free training on the I-9 process, fraudulent document detection, and building a solid immigration compliance model.
The press release announcing the new inspection center and the partnership with Tyson Foods is available here.