Editor: Your firm has recently been awarded a competitive federal grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Special Counsel for Unfair Immigration-related Employment Practices. What are you committed to do to fulfill its obligations?
Nachman: We had been acting for several years as trainers through a non-profit organization previously awarded this grant. This actually is the first year when the grant has been awarded directly to our firm, which makes us especially proud. We are going to be working directly with the federal government agencies, as an extension of the Office of Special Counsel, training employers about their obligations concerning social security mismatches, immigration-related employment discrimination and about the do's and don'ts of employment eligibility verification compliance which has to do with preparing and retaining the I-9 Form. As you know, all employees must prepare the I-9 Form upon being hired whether they are foreign or native born Americans. It is amazing how a simple one page form can create so much confusion for U.S. employers.
Editor: Please explain Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE's) IMAGE program, which is also in your syllabus.
Nachman: The Ice Mutual Agreement Between Government and Employer ("IMAGE") program is a voluntary program promoted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a subdivision the U.S. Department of Homeland Security ("DHS"), which describes "best practices" that the government will expect employers to benchmark in the not too distant future. IMAGErequires employers to submit to an independent audit of their employment eligibility verification process, to undergo training directly by immigration and customs enforcement employees in the field and to comply with a host of other best practices which the government will put forth with regard to these areas in the future. IMAGE remains a "voluntary" program but ICE hopes that IMAGE-certification will become an industry standard.
Editor: Why was your firm chosen?
Nachman: We put forth in our proposal several very advanced modules involving technology for reaching employers. While in Washington a few days ago my assistant and I trained some of the personnel in the Office of Special Counsel about the use of the "webinar" for reaching organizations which have human resource managers at several locations. What we were able to show them was how we could use this technology to train staff in the field. Another module that we had suggested was to revamp and update some of the information which the Office of Special Counsel had been disseminating regarding social security, no-match issues, and how new state laws were affecting immigration-related identity theft, and like matters. One additional item which may have played a part was OSC's knowledge of our work in the Wal-Mart case, a recent landmark case where Wal-Mart had been fined several million dollars for allegedly using contractors who hired unauthorized workers. We have been preparing special certifications for their contractors to allow Wal-Mart to have the comfort of knowing that the contractors that they engaged had employees who were work-authorized.
Editor: With what other groups will you be working in order to accomplish this mission?
Nachman: We had originally contemplated working through organizations like the New Jersey Employers Council, part of the New Jersey Department of Labor, and through other business related organizations - chambers of commerce and trade groups. We are getting inquiries from academic and non-academic institutions. We are getting direct inquiries from employers who want to schedule training sessions at their sites. Some of these sessions would involve attendance by government employees who work for ICE, OSC, the EEOC or the Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS). We are customizing the training programs for employers based upon their respective needs. We are also receiving inquiries from employees directly about what their rights are under the employment-related discrimination laws. We have the authority to disseminate government information directly to employees so that they understand their rights.
Editor: How do you plan to inform employers throughout the State that this program is available to them?
Nachman: We have already established several speaking engagements and training programs throughout the State. We plan to continue to schedule training programs for the public throughout the State of New Jersey. We plan to use the media as well as communicate through trade organizations and chambers of commerce. The public can also view our Firm's events page on our website at www.visaserve. com for a list of upcoming training events.
Editor: If the employers need more information, whom should they contact?
Nachman: The best way for anyone to get information about the programs would be to e-mail us at a special e-mail address which is EV@visaserve.com (EV standing for employment verification) or send a request to email@example.com. Interested persons may call our offices at 201-670-0006, extension 110. We e-mail a short questionnaire to the respondent to provide us with the organization's needs concerning training; we can then customize a training program for their particular needs.