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Rockwall first Texas county to receive ICE IMAGE member certification

(ROCKWALL COUNTY, TX – April 13, 2018) Rockwall officially became the first and only county in Texas to sign an IMAGE (ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers) agreement and become an IMAGE-certified member on Monday, April 9. Special Agent in Charge Katrina Berger of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) presented an IMAGE member certificate to Rockwall County Judge David Sweet at the HSI offices in Irving.

The IMAGE program was established in July 2006 to combat unlawful employment and reduce vulnerabilities that allow illegal aliens to gain such employment. The program also aids employers in developing a more secure and stable workforce, as well as enhancing fraudulent document awareness through education and training.

“This was a no-brainer,” Sweet said. “I would like to recognize the Rockwall County Commissioners Court in their unanimous support in voting with me to approve this agreement. I would also like to recognize our Human Resources Director Kami Webb in leading this initiative as she brought it to the Commissioners Court for consideration. We absolutely want to ensure that the employees we hire are legally able to work in Rockwall County. We wanted to make sure that we’re doing things the right way, and I think that’s extremely important. I’m very proud of the workforce that we have that works on behalf of Rockwall County daily, and we’re proud to be a true partner in this initiative.”

“I’m gratified that Rockwall County chose to ensure that it has a lawful workforce by joining our IMAGE team,” Berger said. “Rockwall County has become a positive role model for all other Texas governments, private companies and all other employers.”

Rockwall County became an IMAGE partner when it first signed an IMAGE agreement on July 25, 2017. All IMAGE partners agree to use E-Verify to help verify the employment eligibility of all new hires, as well as volunteer to have the Forms I-9 for their current employees inspected by HSI auditors. IMAGE partners also agree to create hiring and employment eligibility verification procedures to assist in preventing the employment of unauthorized workers while not discriminating against work-authorized individuals.

HSI Dallas auditors recently completed a Forms I-9 inspection for the approximately 300 current employees of Rockwall County. ICE also provided on-site training to Rockwall County on employment eligibility verification, avoiding immigration-related discrimination during the hiring process, fraudulent documentation detection, and IMAGE best practices.

Sweet said the initiative comes at an appropriate time for Rockwall County, geographically the smallest county in the state but one of the fastest growing counties in Texas and in the United States.

“With population growth comes diversity, and in an effort to accommodate a more diverse workforce within our organization, I feel that entering into the IMAGE agreement with ICE is proactive and appropriate. We are appreciative of the training and privileged to be the first county in Texas to enter into this agreement,” Sweet said.

Berger said the IMAGE program comes at no additional cost to members and is open to all businesses and organizations nationwide – not just county governments. According to the ICE website, over 200 businesses, organizations and municipalities have signed agreements to go through the IMAGE certification process.

While the program is voluntary, Berger encouraged all businesses and organizations to take advantage of the education and training IMAGE offers.

“If you think you have an issue, get ahead of it before someone comes knocking on your door for an I-9 inspection, which could subject you to both criminal penalties and fines,” Berger said.

For more information about IMAGE visit www.ice.gov/image.

Submitted press release. 

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