This CNN interview of the CEO of the startup firm Nextdoor, headlined “Growing List of Tech Companies Oppose Travel Ban,” exemplifies the ease with which the industry can mislead an unquestioning press and an eager-to-please Congress.
In the clip, the CEO, Nirav Tolia, goes out of his way to insert the word diversity into every possible sentence he utters. Even when asked point blank whether Tolia’s hiring of H-1Bs deprives some Americans of jobs, he replies that “We believe in diversity.”
What, you don’t like diversity? I like it, but I don’t like people who abuse the H-1B system and then outrageously use diversity to obfuscate the issue.
First I will state the obvious: The notion that Nextdoor, located in San Francisco, has to resort to hire foreign workers because the locals lack diversity is laughable. But the less obvious facet — which SHOULD be obvious to regular readers of this blog — is that the firm is likely hiring a number of young new/recent foreign graduates of U.S. schools. Being young makes them cheaper, and being foreign makes them immobile.
This seems to be reflected in the Jobs page at the company’s Web site. The listings typically ask for only 2 or 3 years of experience, usually a clear signal that those with 10+ years need not apply. Moreover, the listings are overloaded with requirements, such as this one for a Software Engineer. This is a standard way of excluding American applicants, or as prominent immigration attorney Joel Stewart once put it, “Employers who favor aliens have an arsenal of legal means to reject all U.S. workers who apply.”
And there’s more: My guess is that older (35+) former H-1Bs who now have green cards are not considered “diverse” by this employer. They do appear to have at least one such person, according to LinkedIn, but most qualified applicants in this category will be screened out, diversity or no diversity.
Sorry, but Tolia’s noble-sounding claim of hiring H-1Bs for “diversity’s” sake just doesn’t add up. The assertions that he has engaged in unethical business practices don’t help his case here either.
As to Trump’s travel ban itself, I wrote in a previous post that it seemed premature to me. But I also pointed out that if the level of terrorism rises high enough, even the critics would agree that strong action is required. And Trump claims to have classified information showing that a ban is urgently needed now; I certainly have no way to gainsay that.
What I can say, though, is that I am deeply disturbed by the arguing tactics of opponents of the ban. We are told, for instance, “No deaths have occurred on U.S. soil by attackers from the seven banned countries.” The bold-face emphasis here is mine, of course. Such phrasing ignores, for instance, the crazed, knife-wielding attack by a Somali refugee, reported last November. Fortunately, the police got there quickly and prevented deaths, but critics of the travel ban can say “No deaths.” And as to their phrase “on U.S. soil,” of course they are ignoring Europe, which somehow doesn’t count.
And on the flip side, those 100 tech CEOs who are so vigorously opposing the ban don’t mention the fact that almost none of their immigrant and guest workers come from countries that have been the source of much terrorism. Google, for instance, turns out to have only 100 workers from the list of seven temporarily blocked nations, out of 60,000 employees total, minuscule. This hasn’t been brought up much by our gullible press.
Our democracy cannot function if the press is so unquestioning.