PoliticsImmigration48 Hours on the Border


Arizona cab driver shuttles migrants to next leg of their journey

Jesus Poblete has been driving people in Tucson for the past decade, and recently, migrants have been his main customers.
Posted at 9:27 AM, Mar 13, 2024

Jesus Poblete has been driving his cab around Tucson, Arizona, for the last 10 years. But recently, many of his customers have been migrants.

"I try my best to see where they're at and what the need is," Poblete told Scripps News Tucson. "In my company we don't discriminate — if you need a ride and you can pay we go from there."

Migrants have been staying in local hotels for the last few years for a couple days before heading on to their final destinations in the U.S. The rooms are paid for with federal tax dollars, but the funding is running out soon.

Poblete picks up many migrants at these hotels and takes them to the airport. One migrant in his backseat from Ecuador said recent violence in the country made him leave his home.

“We thank God we are here, because we feel safe now," the man said.

Scripps News Tucson

At the airport, Poblete turns from a cab driver into a travel agent as he helps the migrants access their tickets.

“I never used to get out, but I found the need because they ask me for help, and it’s not a crime to help someone," Poblete said.

But Poblete says he also sees the issues the crisis at the border is causing in Tucson. He says he always talks to the migrants to see how they are doing, and they share with him both sides of the border story.

“I’ve heard basically they’ve been extorted in their country, and there’s been problems and violence," Poblete said. "But I’ve also heard the other side, which I can’t ignore also, where they make up stories at the border so the border patrol can sign them up as refugees.”

While the future for migrant hotels in Tucson is uncertain, it is unlikely the number of migrants being released locally will go down anytime soon.

Congress has decided not to act on any new immigration legislation before the 2024 election, and the Tucson Sector continues to lead the border in total apprehensions.

This story was originally published by Adam Klepp at Scripps News Tucson.