Ad campaign targets tech companies for hiring immigrants

Ad campaign targets tech companies for hiring immigrants

A D.C.-based group this week launched an ad campaign across a San Francisco transit system urging tech companies to favor hiring American workers.

The ad campaign, paid for by Progressives for Immigration Reform, says companies that hire immigrants view American workers as "expensive, undeserving and expendable."

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Photos posted on Twitter show the ad plastered on every available space at a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station in the city with text reading "U.S. tech workers! Your companies think you are expensive, undeserving & expendable," before going on to call on Congress to reform the H1-B visa system.

The ads will run in BART stations and trains around the city for about a month, a spokesperson told BuzzFeed News. Transit officials stressed in an email to BuzzFeed that taking down the ads would violate the group's First Amendment rights.

"It is important for our riders to know the ads contradict our values,” a BART spokesperson told BuzzFeed. “As a transit system we can’t deny the ads. They comply with guidelines allowing advertisers to express a point of view without regard to the viewpoint expressed, consistent with First Amendment freedom of speech court rulings."

Progressives for Immigration Reform is designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an "anti-immigrant" group.

“The idea is to make immigration work for the citizens as a whole,” said Kevin Lynn, the group's executive director, in a statement to BuzzFeed. “That’s what we’ve done for a long time, but it's not doing that now.”

Lynn added that his group plans to bring similar campaigns to other tech centers around the country in the hopes of swaying tech workers to pressure lawmakers into hawkish stances on the H-1B visa program, which allows U.S. companies to hire foreign workers in specialty occupations.

“We're in the Bay Area to stay,” Lynn told BuzzFeed. “We'll work in other tech centers across the United States. Our goal is to inform workers of what they need to do to bring pressure to their electeds to change this system that I think has run amok.”