NEW YORK — More than a half dozen New York based businesses have partnered with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in New York Thursday by joining the agency’s employment compliance program IMAGE, or “ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers.”
The Trans Group and its five subsidiary corporations, headquartered in Spring Valley, NY, operate more than 1,300 vehicles, employ well over 2,000 employees and provide transportation services to hundreds of thousands of passengers annually — making the companies of The Trans Group brand one of the region’s largest school and transit transportation operations. The five subsidiary corporations are as follows: EBT, Inc.; Educational Bus, Inc.; Educational Bus Transportation, Inc.; Chestnut Ridge Transportation, Inc.; and Student Xpress of the Hudson Valley.
Applied DNA Sciences (ADNAS), headquartered in Stony Brook, New York, has approximately 61 employees. The company provides molecular-based security and authentication solutions that help protect products, brands, entire supply chains, governments and consumers from theft, counterfeiting, fraud and diversion.
“I am thankful for those business leaders and professionals who are willing to do what’s right and lawful. The IMAGE program is not just about ensuring good business practices, but it has proven to be critical in exposing other forms of criminality investigated by HSI such as human trafficking and smuggling,” said Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge for HSI New York. “Bad hiring practices can lead to individuals being forced to work for lower wages in poor working conditions, and even against their will. That is why a partnership like the one created today is so important.”
“The Trans Group adheres to the strictest hiring procedures, including criminal background checks, driving record checks, prior employment checks, character reference checks, and drug testing. Adding IMAGE ‘Best Employment Practices’ further strengthens our existing hiring practices and enables us to maintain a lawful workforce. Our number one concern is the safe transport of passengers, which begins by hiring qualified drivers who are authorized to work,” said Patricia Riviello, VP of human resources for The Trans Group.
“It is an honor to become a partner of the ICE IMAGE Program. As a company whose technologies are used by Department of Defense (DOD) and non-DOD federal agencies to establish traceability, authenticate products and enable supply chain security, the discipline under the certification criteria is especially meaningful to us and to our customers,” said Janice Meraglia, VP of Government and Military Programs for
Applied DNA Sciences, Inc.
To qualify for IMAGE certification, partners agree to conduct a self-assessment of their hiring practices to uncover vulnerabilities that could be exploited by unauthorized workers; enroll in E-verify, an employment eligibility verification program; train staff on IMAGE Best Employment Practices and the use of new screening tools; and undergo a Form I-9 audit by ICE.
Undocumented workers create vulnerabilities in today’s marketplace by presenting false documents to gain employment, completing applications for fraudulent benefits, and stealing identities of legal United States workers. To combat this, 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. Through this program, employers can verify that newly hired employees are eligible to work in the United States. This Internet-based system is available throughout the nation and is free to employers. It 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 distinction DHS and ICE believe will become an industry standard. IMAGE also provides free training to all employers on the provisions surrounding the Form I-9, fraudulent document detection, and building a solid immigration compliance model.
Companies interested in more information on the IMAGE program can visit www.ICE.gov/image.
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