Two West African immigrants find work in the New York taxi industry

West African immigrants come to the U.S. for all sorts of reasons. Some for refuge, others for education.

As of June 2017, the people of concern in West Africa include 290,000 refugees, around 7,300 being asylum-seekers, according to The U.N. Refugee Agency.

Living in America and driving cabs for almost three years, Daouda Draore, 28, spoke with a strong accent driving down Fifth Avenue. He is a refugee who came for asylum.

There has been an increase in violence and slave trade in West Africa because of conflict among countries.

Draore works six days a week and twelve hours a day, yet he still struggles. The average annual salary for a taxi driver is $25,987, according to Data USA.

“Today you can make your money and tomorrow not,” said Draore. “Sometimes you rent the car and you don’t have the money to pay because business is bad.”

The passengers aren’t helpful either.

“Some passengers nice, some passengers nervous, you take them somewhere they think it’s far, they start to complain,” said Draore. “Some people is nice with you, most people don’t care.”

Ibraime Camara, a 42-year-old immigrant from Mali, had similar experiences with passengers in his two years of taxiing and 15 years of living in America.

“Some people so mean,” said Camara. “They come to your car, they don’t ever say ‘hi’ or nothing. I’m friendly, but people are so rude.”

According to a Pew Research analysis of U.S Census Bureau Data, in 2015 Africans accounted for 4.9 percent of the immigrant population.

“New Yorkers born in Africa are mostly from West Africa, especially Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Liberia,” the Council of Foreign Relations (2014) concurred from a map created by Business Insider reporter Andy Kiersz.

Despite the negativity from passengers, Camara said he is still the same as when he came to America. Originally, Camara moved to America for a college education, studying business at Edinboro University in Pennsylvania. He dropped out, but wants to return to school and create his own business.

“I’m trying to open a phone store or watch [store],” said Camara. “I want to buy a car here and sell it to Africa.”

Camara plans to go back to West Africa to start a business in the future, but like Draore, he resides in Harlem.

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