Sometimes the best intentions can come off in the worst way possible. Last week, an ad campaign rolled out posters within San Francisco’s public transit system advocating tech companies to hire U.S. workers instead of foreign labor.
The campaign was paid for by Progressives for Immigration Reform, a nonprofit dedicated to, “educating the public on immigration — Sustainability, environment, population growth, and impact on American workers,” according to their website.
The ads in question explicitly say foreign labor has made U.S. tech workers seem “expensive, undeserving and expendable.” In a news release done in 2016 by the U.S. Department of Labor, 16.9 percent of the total labor force were foreign-born persons in the U.S.
David Colt, a tech worker within San Francisco who uses BART daily to commute, shared his opinion about the ads which targets his field.
“In the ads, they say our companies think we are ‘undeserving’ yet I have never felt that disposition from any of the large tech companies I worked for while I’ve been in the city,” said Colt. “However, I can get on board with trying to raise our wages, rent is still ridiculously high.”
Colt does not understand the messages tech companies are trying to send and said the industry are going about it in all the wrong ways.
Due to the First Amendment, BART has no legal jurisdiction to remove the ads.
“They comply with the guidelines when submitting ads to BART so legally speaking we can’t take them down,” said Thomas Edwards, utility worker for BART. “That’s the rub since anyone is allowed to say what they want as long as its consistent with the First Amendment freedom of speech court rulings.”
BART took a stance on “anti-immigration policies” in June of 2017 due to the heated political landscape. They passed a safe transit policy which states, “affirming our dedication to the values of dignity, respect, and inclusivity regardless of ethnic or national origin, gender, gender identity, race, religious affiliation, sexual orientation or immigration status.”
Sabrina Hessabi, an immigrant who was recently granted citizenship and works at Yelp, had a problem with the ads too.
“All of the immigration hate is becoming extreme,” said Hessabi. “I was an immigrant and when I moved to the states back in 2000 it was a much more peaceful transition especially considering I came from the Middle East.”
Hessabi does not approve of the ads. “I’m disgusted they’re trying to represent the tech industry and vouch for us when most of the people I know who work in the field would hate these ads,” said Hessabi.
BART riders and tech workers can rest easy though as the ads will conclude shortly within the next few weeks.