Downeast Wreath Company Signs Agreement with ICE 

A company Downeast is working harder to fight the problem of illegal aliens in Maine. Whitney Wreath in Whitneyville is the first business in the state to sign an agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. With a signature and a handshake, Whitney Wreath and the federal government made a pact to follow the rules of a program called IMAGE. “What IMAGE is about is ensuring that the public and public companies have a legal workforce,” says Bruce Foucart, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston. “Having a legal workforce is all about integrity.”He says the voluntary program gives companies a chance to help cut the use of fake identification and other documents that allow illegal aliens to be hired.”Criminal organizations aren’t vetting who they’re selling these documents to. They could be selling them to someone that may decide to go to work and work hard. But they also may be selling them to some of the 13 terrorists who decide to fly an airplane into the World Trade Center.”The head of Whitney Wreath, David Whitney, says to join the program, the company reviewed its hiring practices and underwent an immigration audit. Whitney Wreath employees about 600 people. 10 percent are migrant workers. “We just wanted to raise the bar amongst other employers, not just our competitors but with other industries in the state of Maine.”Among other things, the company is now part of a online system that can verify if newly hired employees are eligible to work in the U.S. Whitney believes that’s good for business. “I think that it will raise our stature. I think that will will make us a more valuable vendor to customers such as L.L. Bean and QVC.””The temptation is there in this industry to hire people who are not in the country legally,” Foucart says. “But the fact is they’ve made the right choice and they’ve decided not to be a part of that, for all the right reasons.”Besides being the first in Maine, Whitney Wreath is the fourth company in New England to sign on to the IMAGE program.