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A Need to End Taxi Dispute

March 31, 1985

The dispute between the Border Patrol and taxicab companies operating in the South Bay should be resolved so that no further disruptions in service there occurs.

Several companies briefly withdrew or restricted their service in the South Bay last week. Although the service was restored, not much seems to have been resolved.

The Border Patrol says the problem exists because some of the taxi drivers participate in smuggling by picking up illegal aliens as they cross the border and by taking them to drop houses.

The taxi companies cite the city ordinance that requires them to accept any customer who is not posing a danger to the driver.

This seems like a problem reasonable people should be able to work out. If the drivers are going out in search of illegal aliens--cruising remote areas, showing up at prearranged sites, charging more than the meter indicates--they are certainly fair game for the Border Patrol, and the companies don't have a complaint coming. By the same token, if the Border Patrol has evidence that drivers are breaking the law, it should have charges filed against them, not just confiscate their cabs.

It should not, however, be up to a driver to figure out a passenger's nationality or status in this country. Some of the taxi operators have protested that their drivers had their cars confiscated while on runs assigned by company dispatchers. If people are following the proper procedure to get a cab, the drivers have no choice but to serve them. And to make taxi drivers suspicious of every Latino customer in South Bay is intolerable.

The companies don't want to lose their South Bay business, and the area deserves to have proper service. The companies and the Border Patrol should come to a clear understanding of the rules of the game, then they should be enforced fairly in impartially.

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