HURON, SD -
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security wants more South Dakota companies to join a program designed to cut back on the hiring of illegal workers.
A turkey processing plant in Huron is the first in the state to join the program. Federal officials hope others follow.
Dakota Provisions hires more than 850 people. Leaders at the plant say it's best for the company if workers are all legal.
"Primarily it helps us get a good, solid workforce and once it's known in the United States we don't hire illegals and we don't play any games, then that continues to help us get a good workforce," Dakota Provisions’ Jeff Sveen said.
That's one reason the Huron-based company reached out to the U.S Department of Homeland Security to join something known as the IMAGE program. The federal department offers companies support that helps prevent them from hiring illegal workers in the first place. It also monitors them to verify they're operating within the law.
Federal officials recognized Dakota Provisions' involvement in the program Wednesday. They argue it will help investigators, companies and the general public.
"It protects the system and protects other individuals from their identities being wrongfully used to gain employment in the United States," Homeland Security Investigations’ Edward Pollock said.
The program uses some resources available elsewhere and brings them together. It also gives companies additional support. For example, the program could help an employer screen potential employees who try to gain work using false documents.
"We're very excited about this helping us maintain good employees," Sveen said.
A company's participation is voluntary and comes with an audit making sure it's only hiring legal workers. Investigators say Dakota Provisions easily passed.
© 2013 KELOLAND TV. All Rights Reserved.