Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam called for a major overhaul of U.S. immigration policies, broaching an issue that has become increasingly contentious under President Donald Trump.
McAdam said “women and people of color” represent nearly 60% of Verizon’s workforce of 160,000, and immigrants account for a sizable number of its workers. And the company has told those employees it will help them navigate any new immigration policies, he said.
“As a technology company, we value our immigrant employees as an important source of talent, particularly in the engineering, scientific and technical fields that are key to our competitiveness,” McAdam said in an open letter published on LinkedIn. “We have pledged to them, and all employees affected by U.S. immigration policies, that we will help resolve any questions and concerns they may have as to their personal circumstances and status.”
McAdam’s letter comes on the heels of last week’s ruling by a federal judge in Hawaii that blocked Trump’s ban on travel from six predominately Muslim countries. The decision marked a second significant defeat for Trump, who has consistently argued that a travel ban is crucial to protect U.S. security.
Tech giants including Apple, Google and Microsoft joined a legal brief opposing Trump’s first temporary travel ban last month before it was struck down. McAdam didn’t address any proposed travel ban directly, but he suggested current immigration policies are impeding efforts by U.S. tech companies to attract talent from around the world.
“To be a technology leader in today’s hyper-competitive ecosystem, we need great people with the technical skills to power our future,” he wrote. “Yet America is in danger of falling behind our global competitors when it comes to developing technical talent. As an example, I just returned from China, where they are graduating 2 million engineers a year, compared to about 240,000 in America.”
And immigration reform would enable Verizon and other U.S. companies to recruit skilled tech workers more effectively, he argued.
“I believe the key to bridging that talent gap is bringing more women and diverse populations into technical fields,” McAdam continued. “More broadly, immigrants have always played a central role in the story of America as inventors, entrepreneurs and builders. As I wrote to Senate leaders in 2013, we believe a comprehensive reform of our immigration system would remove a drag on our economy and allow American businesses to compete in the global market for scientific and technical talent. This can and should be an issue that attracts bipartisan support.”