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VIDEO: Immigrants Behind the Wheel

There are 42,000 cab drivers in New York City–and 82% of them are immigrants. Many from them from white collars jobs back in their home country.

By Jia Guo

Kalsang Dorgi, is a 35 year-old Tibetan immigrant (from India) who has driven a cab for the past four years. He is trying to change his career from driving cabs to accounting after he finishes an Associate’s Degree in Economics.

In the Yellow Cab industry, a report obtained by the New York Times in 2004 showed that South Asian immigrants dominated the yellow cab drivers, which made up about 38 percent of all drivers.

It’s clear the majority of cab drivers in New York City are immigrants. According to statistics from New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of July 2nd, 2012, there were 42,000 taxi cab drivers in New York City. Eighty-two percent of them were foreign-born.

“Some people assumed that as long as you came here, you would get rich,” said Dorgi who is supporting his wife and two children in Queens, “but, that’s not the case. You have to work really hard to survive here.”


Originally produced for Pavement Pieces.