Chapman University Fellow lambasts tech corporates.
By Deepak Chitnis
WASHINGTON, DC: As the debate for comprehensive immigration reform rages on, some say that adding the controversial amnesty clause to the legislation could, in fact, have an adverse effect on the hiring of women and certain minorities in Silicon Valley.
The claim comes from Joel Kotkin, a writer with The Daily Beast who is also a “presidential fellow in urban futures” at Chapman University. In his piece, Kotkin lambasts the big Silicon Valley firms for decreasing the number of blacks, Hispanics, and women in management positions, and for sending work overseas or hiring cheaper foreign workers while using the excuse that they are more skilled that American
“[Of the] top managers and officials in the Silicon Valley offices of the 10 large companies in 2005, 296 were black or Hispanic, a 20% decline from 2000,” said Kotkin. Additionally, he said, the “share of managers and top officials who are female at those 10 big Silicon Valley firms slipped to 26% in 2005, from 28 percent in 2000.”
Other reports and studies back this up, particularly the part about women. In February of this year, law firm Fenwick & West released a study saying that a plurality of Silicon Valley firms don’t even have a single woman on their board of directors, while S&P companies tend to have at least two.
The comprehensive immigration reform bill, which may or may not allow amnesty, does include clauses to significantly boost the number of H-1B visas and other such documentation allowed each year. Kotkin argues that this would only permit big firms to hire more foreign workers, and would sideline a larger number of domestic Hispanics, black, and women.
“The tech giants claim that they hire cheap workers overseas because of a critical shortage of skilled computer workers but that doesn’t hold up to serious scrutiny,” wrote Kotkin. “[But] a 2013 report from the labor-aligned Economic Policy Institute found that the country is producing 50% more IT professionals per year than are being employed.
Kotkin essentially says that IT firms are hiring foreign “guest workers” to keep costs low and workforces “pliant.” The Economic Policy Institute numbers indicate that between 33% and 50% of all new IT jobholders in the US come from other nations.
Providing amnesty to the millions of undocumented immigrants already in the US, many of whom are Latino or Hispanic, would allow more of them to get jobs in the US. But Kotkin argues that the majority of them would be low-end, service industry jobs, and very few would have the opportunity to work for the increasingly less diverse Silicon Valley.
Regardless of Kotkin’s concerns, however, comprehensive immigration reform still has a long way to go before it becomes a reality. Amnesty is just one part of the incredibly multi-faceted debate going on between Democrats and Republicans, who are still trying to figure out the best way to solve the immigration problem while keeping America’s interests first and foremost.
Kotkin makes no overt reference to Indian Americans or other Asian demographics, as those clearly have not had too much trouble finding success in California’s IT haven. But women and other minority groups may be in trouble if widespread immigration laws come to pass in 2014.