Phoenix “Border Zone” Fieldtrip


     I visited the taxicab “staging area” next to Terminal C at Sky Harbor Airport.  All cab companies that are licensed with the City of Phoenix are required to queue up at this holding area.  This process is part of the airport ground traffic control system and ensures that sufficient cabs are available at each terminal during peak arrival times.

     Jerry, a 44 year old transplant from Illinois, has been driving a taxicab in Phoenix since 1994.  I was fortunate to find Jerry – he was very informative, helpful, and genuinely curious about my assignment.  He has driven for all four major cab companies and has been assigned both airport and city-street routes.  He confidently estimated that at least 75% of Phoenix’s 500+ cabbies are immigrants.  The owner of Yellow Cab Co. is from Iran and his bias is to hire immigrants from the Middle East.  Jerry said he has known cabbies “from all four corners of the world.”  The language problem, understanding verbal directions and map reading, forces about 80% of immigrants to choose airport routes.  Most of the customers picked up at the airport are either going to one of the major hotels or to their home in the Phoenix area.  Cabbies memorize the route to the top twenty hotels.  If the final destination is a residential home, the customer is asked the major cross-streets.  I observed that at least 3 out of 4 drivers appeared to be immigrant.

     Maria, the girl in the photo, is 26 years old and migrated two years ago from Mexico.  She was a little hesitant about allowing me to photograph her.  My ASU I.D. helped reassure her that I was not Border Patrol or Immigration agent.  She has been a cabdriver for two years.


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