Immigration Enforcement

Kentucky restaurant owner sentenced to 8 months for employing illegal aliens

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The owner of a LaGrange restaurant was sentenced Tuesday to eight months in federal prison following his guilty plea to knowingly employing illegal aliens. This sentence resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Fei Guo Tang, 38, of LaGrange, Ky., is the owner of Jumbo Buffet located at 1218 Market St. in LaGrange. He was sentenced Jan. 6 by U.S. District Court Judge Charles R. Simpson III, Western District of Kentucky, to eight months in prison for employing illegal aliens at his restaurant. Tang was also sentenced to serve three years of supervised release following his release from prison.

Tang had pleaded guilty to knowingly employing at least 10 illegal aliens at his restaurant between November 2006 and November 2007 for commercial advantage and financial gain. He was arrested Nov. 14, 2007, when ICE agents executed a search warrant at his restaurant. During the search warrant ICE agents seized about $59,000 from the restaurant, which will be forfeited to the United States, and detained six illegal aliens found working at the restaurant, who have since been deported.

ICE agents initiated the investigation in December 2006 after receiving credible information that illegal aliens were knowingly being employed at the Jumbo Buffet restaurant. Tang is not a U.S. citizen, and will be subject to deportation proceedings after he completes his prison sentence.

“ICE aggressively targets employers who egregiously violate immigration laws by knowingly employing an illegal alien workforce,” said Jerry Phillips, resident agent-in-charge of the ICE office of investigations in Louisville. “This case demonstrates firsthand how ICE agents use our investigative tools to pursue those who take advantage of illegal labor for personal profit, and to gain an unfair advantage in the business marketplace.”

Since it was established in 2003, ICE has dramatically enhanced its efforts to combat the unlawful employment of illegal aliens in the United States. In 2008, ICE made more than 1,100 criminal arrests tied to work-site enforcement investigations. Of those charged criminally in these types of cases, 135 were business owners, managers, supervisors, or human resource employees. In addition to the criminal arrests, ICE also took 5,100 illegal aliens into custody on administrative immigration violations during worksite investigations.

To help employers build a legal workforce, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security established an initiative called the ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers, or IMAGE. IMAGE is designed to build cooperative relationships between the government and businesses, strengthen hiring practices, and reduce the unlawful employment of illegal aliens. The initiative also seeks to gain greater industry compliance and corporate due diligence through enhanced training and education of employers. ICE encourages employers to review the IMAGE program materials available at: www.ice.gov.

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January 9, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

DHS Touts Workforce Verification

by Mickey McCarter
Wednesday, 10 September 2008
ICE, USCIS showcase voluntary employee checks

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been improving its employment verification application, which already instantly clears most employees checked against it, by focusing on specific populations who have been experiencing problems with mismatched names and social security numbers in the system, DHS officials said in a press conference Tuesday.

For example, audits of the E-Verify system demonstrate improved rates after DHS addressed problems verifying naturalized US citizens, reported Gerri Ratliff, a deputy associate director at US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

“We want to be able to instantly verify them,” Ratliff said. “As of May, we can do that in most instances as a result of adding the naturalization database information from USCIS databases. We continue to work to analyze pockets of folks who disproportionately we cannot verify but they can then take steps and show they are authorized to work.”

According to an analysis by research firm Westat, automatic verification of an individual’s work authorization status occurs 94.2 percent of the time with E-Verify. Of the remainder, 0.5 percent of those with an initial mismatch resolve it successfully, leaving 5.3 percent as unauthorized workers.

“By the way, 90 percent of mismatches are folks who choose not to contest their mismatch. So really, the system works,” Ratliff declared.

Ratliff discussed the statistics at a roundtable in Arlington, Va., held to highlight the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Mutual Agreement Between Government and Employers (IMAGE) program, an effort to encourage companies to solicit an employee audit through ICE and to promote hiring authorized workers.

ICE Assistant Secretary Julie Myers announced Tuesday that IMAGE had grown to include 46 members, including companies such as General Dynamics, Taser, and Smithfield Foods. IMAGE provides a means for companies to proactively engage ICE to make certain they have a legal workforce.

“With Smithfield, for example, they approached us,” Myers explained. “We had no investigation with them at all; we knew nothing about any problems at their plants. We were able to work with them to ensure that we weren’t going to make any unannounced visits to their facilities. That’s the kind of thing that Smithfield finds is a real benefit. It’s also a benefit for us to have companies come forward so that we can work cooperatively with them to determine whether or not they have problems with their workforce and how to resolve them.”

Companies that have a clean history of hiring only authorized workers can become full members of IMAGE, while companies that have experienced problems can become associate members as a means of working toward a fully legal workforce, Myers added. She reported hearing stories of some companies turning to IMAGE-certified staffing firms to make certain they did not hire illegal immigrants.

All IMAGE companies agree to use E-Verify to authenticate the status of their employees.


Mickey McCarter
About the author:
eNewsletter Editor/Senior Washington Correspondent, is a journalist with more than a decade of experience in reporting on military affairs and information technology.
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September 11, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is the IMAGE program?

IMAGE

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is IMAGE?

IMAGE is a joint government and private sector voluntary initiative designed to build cooperative relationships that strengthen overall hiring practices. The goal is to help restore the integrity of the immigration system of the United States by utilizing industry outreach and self-policing. ICE has developed this initiative as a new concept for employer self-compliance within the worksite enforcement program.

Why Was the IMAGE Program Started?

An April 1999 Government Accountability Office report entitled “Significant Obstacles to Reducing Unauthorized Alien Employment Exist,” noted that certain industries historically have had a high percentage of illegal aliens in their workforce. ICE recognizes that the highest level of employment integrity can only be achieved through close coordination with industry partners. Furthermore, industry self-policing will allow ICE to focus on other aspects of its homeland security mission. The IMAGE program also serves to foster improved relations with businesses vital to U.S. national interests as part of ICE’s role in critical infrastructure protection.

Is IMAGE an Employment Eligibility Verification System?

The IMAGE program mandates that its members use E-Verify, an online system operated jointly by the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration, as the first of its 10 best practices. The other best practices go beyond electronic verification to help employers who seek to maintain the integrity of their worksites.

What Are the Benefits of Becoming an IMAGE Member?

Following the prescribed steps of IMAGE could lessen the likelihood that your company is found in violation. IMAGE places an emphasis on self-policing. It can enhance your corporate image by associating it with sound hiring practices, and help to secure the homeland by reducing opportunities to inadvertently hire unauthorized workers. IMAGE participation may be considered a mitigating factor in the determination of civil penalty (fine) amounts should they be levied.

What Does ICE Agree to Do as Part of IMAGE?

ICE will look to IMAGE participants to promote industry-wide participation and acceptance of the IMAGE program. ICE will review IMAGE participants’ hiring and employment practices/policies and recommend to companies ways to correct compliance issues. ICE will identify schemes used to circumvent hiring and employment processes. ICE will work collaboratively with employers whenever it discovers minor and isolated potential misconduct. ICE will attempt to minimize disruption of business operations resulting from a company’s self-disclosure of possible violations. ICE will keep the related information confidential to the extent permitted by law and regulation.

What Kinds of Additional Work Will IMAGE Participants Be Required to Perform?

Employers seeking to participate in IMAGE must first agree to submit to an I-9 audit by ICE and, to ensure the accuracy of their wage reporting, verify the Social Security numbers of their existing labor forces, utilizing the Social Security Number Verification Service (SSNVS). All IMAGE participants will agree to use E-Verify for all new hiring. Companies will agree to establish an internal training program covering topics such as I-9, fraudulent identity documents, and E-Verify procedures. Companies will have only trained employees completing the I-9 and performing the E-Verify query and will establish a secondary review process to ensure that a single individual does not subvert the process. Companies will conduct a semiannual I-9 audit by a neutral party and establish a self-reporting procedure to inform ICE of violations or deficiencies. Additionally, companies will establish a protocol for responding to no-match letters from the Social Security Administration.

ICE is requesting that companies establish a tip line for employees to report violations or deficiencies and that employers with more than 50 employees designate a compliance officer to ensure that employment practices are in accordance with IMAGE guidelines.

Once a year, IMAGE participants will report to ICE the number of employees removed and denied employment as a result of IMAGE participation, identify major organizational changes and update their company’s point of contact. Participants will immediately report to ICE the discovery or allegations of any substantive criminal violations.

What Is E-Verify?

The E-Verify program, formerly known as Basic Pilot or the Employment Eligibility Verification System (EEVS), is jointly administered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA). This program allows participating employers to verify whether newly hired employees are authorized to work in the United States by checking the information provided by the employees on their Form I-9 against both DHS and SSA databases. Participation in E-Verify is currently free to employers.  For more information on this voluntary program, visit the USCIS Web site at http://www.uscis.gov/everify.

Why Do I Have to Perform Document Checks?

Section 274A of the Immigration and Nationality Act requires employers to verify that all employees are authorized to work and have established their identities using the Form I-9.

What Happens If I Correctly Complete an I-9 Form and Perform the E-Verify Query and ICE Subsequently Determines the Individual to Be Unauthorized to Work in the U.S.?

If the employee presented the employer with documents that reasonably appeared to be genuine and relate to the employee presenting them, you cannot be charged with a verification violation. This type of circumstance underscores the importance of why ICE is advocating participation in E-Verify for all employers.

You may request an information packet via the Enrollment Information for Employers form.

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September 10, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment