EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Amber Cardova has been living in the El Paso area for two years, and for the duration of that time, she has been working as an Uber driver.
On Dec. 8, she received a notification that a couple wanted to be picked up from the Budget Inn Motel in East El Paso and wanted to be dropped off about 88 miles away in Sierra Blanca, Texas.
Cardova explained that she is used to accepting longer routes and that kind of trip would actually help her meet her goal for the day. However, not being from the area, she was unaware of the immigration checkpoints on the outskirts of town.
As they were going through the checkpoint, the passengers were discovered to be migrants who had crossed the border and did not have the correct documentation. Border Patrol immediately detained them along with Cardova, believing her to be smuggling them.
“They ended up reading my Miranda rights, took my fingerprints, my photo, had me sign a waiver and they pretty much questioned me asking me do I know these people,” she said.
Throughout the ordeal, Cardova was asked to contact Uber to verify that she is a certified driver. The company was able to confirm it and she was later released after being put in a cell for over 20 minutes.
Now, she wants more ways for rideshare companies to protect their drivers.
“Uber drivers have to go through, like, a background check, submit an ID, proof an insurance and all this to protect the passengers but there’s not anything to protect the drivers, really.”
KTSM reached out to the Uber security team about the policies protecting drivers as well as if they are keeping in contact with Cardova.
In a statement to KTSM, an Uber spokesperson said: “The safety and peace of mind of drivers is very important to us. We have pioneered a number of tools and resources available for drivers in the Uber app, including the ability to speak with a live ADT safety agent, a Proof of Trip Status tool, and other critical safety features that are available at the touch of a button. We are working to get in touch with the driver to offer support and stand ready to assist law enforcement however we can.”
The migrant surge at the border continues to grow in El Paso and while there are no ways of confirming who drivers are picking up, Cardova wants other rideshare drivers to be aware.
“If there’s a checkpoint or anything I would just avoid it for now since now were having a lot of immigrants coming in so you can’t really know who you’re picking up or where you’re taking them because, I mean, Uber doesn’t provide that information just the name pickup and drop off,” she said.
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