Four New Yorkers claimed in a lawsuit filed in January that undercover Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) officers entrap people of color as part of a crackdown on illegal cabbies at NYC-area airports. The drivers allege TLC agents, posing as desperate, stranded visitors, “groveled” for rides – essentially making up realistic scenarios and begging for help, often from people with a limited understanding of the English language, then ticketed them when they agreed to help.
Belinda Luu, an attorney with Mobilization for Justice, said the organization has received roughly 150 calls in recent years, nearly all from people of color. Luu acknowledges picking up passengers for a fare without a TLC license violates the city’s street hail law, which is meant to protect legal cabbies and deter human trafficking – but these sting operations cross the line into entrapment, she adds.
TLC officers have issued roughly 5,600 tickets for street hail violations at JFK and LaGuardia airports since 2019, Luu said – mostly from undercover operations, resulting in roughly $8.4 million in fines imposed by the city.
“We take the safety of passengers and drivers seriously, and our undercover airport enforcement operations are designed to ensure that only TLC-licensed drivers and vehicles following established rules may pick up passengers for pay,” said TLC spokesperson Jason Kersten. He added that the agency is reviewing the suit.
Source: The Gothamist