Three Plattsburgh, New York, taxi cab companies will pay financial penalties for taking advantage of illegal immigrants fleeing the United States for Canada through practices including price gouging, the New York Attorney General’s office said on Wednesday.
It said in a statement the fines came as part of a settlement after the three companies, Northern Taxi, Town Taxi and C & L Taxi, “admitted to not posting rates as required by law.”
Illegal crossings from the United States into Canada have become increasingly common in the months since U.S. President Donald Trump, who campaigned on a pledge to crack down on undocumented immigrants, took office in January.
The regular fare for the distance ranges from US$65-75, but at least one driver from a Plattsburgh cab company charged passengers as much as $300 for a trip to the border, prosecutors said.
“It’s no secret that we’ve seen intense fear in immigrant communities across New York in recent months. To take advantage of that fear for financial gain is simply unconscionable,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in the statement.
“My office won’t hesitate to crack down on those seeking to take advantage of this climate of fear.”
As part of the settlement, the Plattsburgh companies will pay penalties ranging from $350 to $2,500.
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Northern Taxi did not immediately respond to phone calls seeking comment. The owner of C&L Taxi said she was not aware of the allegations. The operator of Town Taxi told Reuters they had not publicized fares.
On Wednesday, Reuters published a report about asylum seekers traveling to the Canadian border, based in part on an interview with C&L Taxi driver Curtis Seymour.
Seymour voted for Trump partly because of his immigration policies, but said he had grown increasingly sympathetic to his immigrant passengers.