Posted: 04/29/2013
Last Updated: 31 minutes ago
By: Rudy Rivas
By: Navideh Forghani

A Phoenix company is taking extra steps to make sure every employee is working legally here in the Valley.

CareScape is a local landscaping company that works on everything from residential lawn care to commercial lawn care. But they are nationally known for their role with helping employ legal workers.

CareScape is the first landscape company in the country, and one of just 5 Arizona businesses, to join the federal government's Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency on a program called IMAGE.

CareScape says that as part of the program, ICE provides private companies with education and training on proper hiring procedures, including use of employment screening tools such as E-Verify. The company also undergoes an audit of their I-9 forms to ensure current employees are eligible to work in the United States.

Several years ago, ICE did an audit on the landscaping company, and they found out of 300 workers only about 18 were working illegally.

"We had to let them go. It's hard, all of them had been with the company for years," said Roger Opitz, Jr.

CareScape fired those employees but gave them the chance to work for the company again if they become legal citizens. Two employees have got their jobs back after getting the right paperwork.

Angel Ocampo is one of those workers. He says he's been working in the shadows until ICE did an audit on the company.

"They fired me. I was shocked. I didn't know what I was going to do. My wife is an American citizen so I started the process of getting legalized," said Ocampo.

It look him a year before he could get his job back with the company.

CareScape says their workers feel a lot more comfortable working as legal residents compared to working illegally and worrying about authorities catching them.