Yuma warehouse joins ICE’s IMAGE program

Contributed Photo/Courtesy ICE: Spindle Cooling signs an agreement to participate in ICE’s IMAGE program to deter unauthorized employment.

Contributed Article

YUMA – A local San Luis-area warehouse company has become the latest Arizona employer to join a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program designed to strengthen hiring practices and reduce unauthorized employment.

Spindle Cooling recently signed an agreement to participate in IMAGE (ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers), a voluntary program in which ICE partners with businesses to reduce unauthorized employment and the use of fraudulent identity documents. Spindle Cooling received its certificate earlier this month formally marking the firm’s entry into the program.

As the 41st Arizona business to sign up for IMAGE, Spindle Cooling has agreed to partner with ICE and perform the actions required to obtain IMAGE certification. These actions include conducting a self-assessment of hiring practices to uncover vulnerabilities that could be exploited by unauthorized workers; enrolling in E-verify, an employment eligibility verification program; training staff on IMAGE Best Employment Practices and the use of new screening tools; and undergoing a Form I-9 audit by ICE.

“A big part of our success is due to the vision and unwavering commitment to excellence by everyone on staff,” said Mario S. Jauregui, managing partner of Spindle Cooling. “Being in full compliance with not only food safety standards but with federal agencies is non-negotiable. We are extremely proud to have now received IMAGE certification.”

Established in 2002, Spindle Cooling specializes in receiving, warehousing, and shipping a wide variety of products between the United States and Mexico, but their main focus is on highly perishable items such as fresh fruit and vegetables. The company, which has a workforce of about 29 employees, operates close to 75,000 sq. feet of dry, refrigerated, and freezer storage. 2017 marked a big year for Spindle Cooling, as they received, stored, and exported to Mexico a total of 4,478 truckloads of fresh fruit with an estimated wholesale value of over $85,000,000. They also received and serviced, from Mexico more than 600 truckloads of various products with an estimated total value of $25,000,000.

“Homeland Security Investigations is proud to forge a partnership with Spindle Cooling through the IMAGE program as we continue to work together to ensure good business practices,” said Scott Brown, special agent in charge for HSI Phoenix. “When employers strive to maintain a lawful workforce, it’s good for their business which in turn is good for our communities.”

All IMAGE members must participate in the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) E- Verify employment eligibility verification program. The program enables businesses to verify that newly hired employees are eligible to work in the United States. The Internet-based system, which provides an automated link to the Social Security Administration’s database and DHS immigration records, is available nationwide at no cost to employers.

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.

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 call HSI Phoenix at 602- 407-6155 or visit www.ICE.gov/image.