ATLANTA (AP) – In the past few months, the roster of companies in a revamped, voluntary immigration enforcement program offered by the federal government has expanded by nearly one-fifth.

The rise in participants in the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s IMAGE program comes as the Obama administration steps up employer audits.

The acronym stands for ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers. Officials say it can reduce the employment of illegal immigrants and the use of fake identification documents.

To participate, employers must meet several requirements: enroll in the federal E-Verify program; submit to an ICE audit of their I-9 forms that new employees complete and related documents; establish a written hiring and employment verification policy that includes a yearly internal audit; and sign a partnership agreement with ICE.

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