This blog has previously reported that Immigration and Customs Enforcement has conducted several waves of audits of businesses in Florida, and nationwide, concerning I-9 compliance records. Employment eligibility verification is required of Florida businesses, even amidst the national public debate about the use of the federal E-Verify system.
The Obama administration has focused more heavily on I-9 compliance audits of businesses than looking for undocumented workers during physical raids of the premises, although some raids have continued. This blog reported about such a raid at the Lake Nona Veteran’s Administration Medical Center in February. Now the administration is touting a voluntary business and employment immigration program known as ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers, or IMAGE.
In fiscal year 2011, ICE conducted 2,496 I-9 audits nationwide. Employment eligibility and I-9 compliance attorneys know that even diligent businesses can find errors in their I-9 records. Businesses in Florida can voluntarily use the E-Verify system and state agencies are required to participate under executive order of the governor.
The IMAGE program tacks a somewhat different tack. The federal program is voluntary, but has several strict requirements for participation. Businesses who want to voluntarily participate in the federal IMAGE program must enroll in the E-Verify program. But the IMAGE program touted by the administration also requires business to voluntarily submit to an ICE I-9 audit, establish a written policy on employment eligibility verification and hiring practices that includes a yearly internal audit, and sign a partnership with ICE.
Florida businesses that have questions regarding employment immigration and I-9 compliance issues should consider speaking with an experienced Florida business immigration attorney to learn more about the employment eligibility process.
Source: Fox News Latino, “ICE Pushes New IMAGE Voluntary Compliance Program for Businesses,” Nov. 13, 2011