Things That Matter

Puerto Rican IDs And Driver’s Licenses Are Legal And It’s Time For People To Stop Saying They Are Invalid

Since Hurricane Maria, Puerto Ricans have moved to the mainland U.S. The move is possible because Puerto Ricans are American citizens after the passage of the Jones Act of 1917. While the Jones Act made them U.S. citizens, they are not full Americans lacking the right to vote in elections and their representatives do not have voting power. Yet, despite the law making Puerto Ricans U.S. citizens, some people on the mainland are still in the dark when it comes to Puerto Rican identification cards.

An NYU journalism student was recently turned away at a bar because a bouncer decided that her Puerto Rican ID was invalid.

Credit: all.around.the.town / Instagram

According to Washington Square News, NYU’s independent student newspaper, Rebecca Gelpí was with a group of friends when they decided to head to Los Feliz, a Mexican bar and restaurant. According to Washington Square News, the bouncer for Los Feliz said that he was “uncomfortable” with their form of ID and asked why they didn’t have a passport.

“They asked us why we did not have our passports with us,” Gelpí told Washington Square News. “So I said, ‘Because we’re American citizens, we don’t need to carry [them] around.’”

According to the Washington Square News, this is one of many instances of the bar refusing to acknowledge legal IDs from Puerto Ricans who want to get in. The report shows two other instances of people leaving feedback about the bar’s blatant refusal to accept their Puerto Rican identification and legitimate. This isn’t the only instance of a U.S. business claiming Puerto Rican IDs are foreign.

An Indiana Purdue University engineering student says CVS employees would not sell him over-the-counter cold medicine after demanding immigration papers. Jose Guzman Payano, who is Puerto Rican and therefore an American citizen, said that he presented his driver’s license issued from Puerto Rico but the workers rejected it. The employees insisted he needed a “valid” U.S. ID and began to interrogate Guzman Payano about his immigration status. 

The student formally filed a complaint with CVS, but because of the debacle, he wasn’t able to purchase the cold medicine he needed. His mother Arlene Payano Burgos shared his story on Facebook, where it went viral and began to receive attention from reporters. CVS says it is investigating the situation. 

CVS employee allegedly claims Puerto Rican driver’s license is not valid U.S. ID. 

“She said she needed a U.S.-issued ID, Canada or Mexico license. That’s when I tell her that was a U.S. issued license, and I didn’t need anything else but that license,” said Guzman Payano explained to WUSA. 

He claimes the cashier of the store refused to accept his driver’s license from Puerto Rico, but would have accepted one from Canada or Mexico, when he went to purchase Mucinex. Guzman Payano was all the more stunned when she asked him for a visa— the presumption being he must not be a citizen. 

“And then when she asked me for a visa, I was in shock at that time. And we went back and forth, and I said this is a U.S.-issued license,” said Guzman Payano. Sadly this isn’t the first time something like this has happened to the student. 

He showed the cashier his United States-issued passport and he says she still refused to sell him the medicine. 

“I carry around my passport on my bookbag because of things like this,” he said.

Guzman Payan files a formal complaint with CVS. 

Update in my comments:My family and I are Puerto Rican. For those of you who don’t know, we are a United States…

Posted by Arlene Payano Burgos on Friday, October 25, 2019

Guzman Payano left the store without his cold medicine and called his mother, Arlene Payano Burgos in Puerto Rico. Payano Burgos took the incident to Facebook where her story was shared over 10,000 times. 

“A Puerto Rican driver’s license is a valid form of US identification, and is even accepted by the Transportation Security Administration for travel within the United States. In an effort to wrap up the transaction and get back to school, he then proceeded to show her his United States Passport which she also refused to accept,” the mother wrote.

Adding that the employees refused to give Guzman Payano their information for the complaint. 

“She then subsequently refused to sell him the medication. The shift manager then came out and gave him the same explanation. My son then asked them for their names to file a complaint. Both employees refused to give him their information and he was forced to leave the store without the medication.”

Payano Burgos thought it was outrageous that any customer would be forced to disclose their immigration status to CVS whether they were a citizen or not. 

“Needless to say my son, or any other consumer, is not obligated to disclose his immigration status to any CVS employee! What caused this employee to ask him for his visa? Was it his accent? Was it his skin color? Was it the Puerto Rican flag on the license? Whatever triggered her to discriminate against my son embodies exactly what is wrong in the United States of America today,” she wrote. 

CVS releases a statement about the incident. 

Guzman Payano said it took nine days for CVS to contact him about the complaint, according to WUSA

“I felt ignored basically like something did happen, but they didn’t want to take care of it,” he said.

A CBS spokesperson released a statement to WUSA Eyewitness News that included an apology to Guzman Payano saying that Puerto Rican driver license’s are a valid form of U.S. identification. 

“CVS Pharmacy is committed to ensuring that every customer receives courteous, outstanding service in our stores. We sincerely apologize to our customer in West Lafayette for his recent experience in one of our stores. We do, in fact, recognize Puerto Rican driver’s licenses to be a valid form of U.S. identification. We are reinforcing with employees the correct procedures to follow when requesting identification that is required by law for the purchase of certain over-the-counter medications.”

According to the New York Times, a 2017 Morning Consult poll found that 46 percent of Americans don’t know people born in Puerto Rico are United States citizens by birthright. 

“There’s a lack of education — especially here in the states — of how Puerto Rico came to be part of the U.S. Some people don’t even know where Puerto Rico is located,” Guzman Payano said.

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A Black Student From Louisiana State Accused Three Police Offers Of Unzipping His Pants To ‘Look’ For Drugs

Things That Matter

A Black Student From Louisiana State Accused Three Police Offers Of Unzipping His Pants To ‘Look’ For Drugs

Anadolu Agency / Getty

Abuse of power by police is alive and well in Baton Rouge and in urgent need of being stopped.

Three police officers from the Louisiana capital have been put on paid administrative leave after accusations of harassment were issued by a local Black college football freshman. According to the student, Koy Moore a freshman who plays a wide receiver at Louisiana State University, the three police officers unzipped his pants and confiscated his phone to prevent him from recording the incident.

In a post shared to Twitter on Saturday, Moore claimed that the officers “violated” him in an attempt to search him for drugs and weapons while screaming “Where’s your gun?”

Koy Moore claims that he was violated by three Baton Rouge police officers.

“I was violated numerous times even going as far as trying to unzip my pants in search of a weapon that I repeatedly told them I did not have,” Moore wrote in the post. “As I tried to go live for video documentation of the harassment, they snatched my phone. I could have lost my life, and I know for a fact nothing would’ve happened to the guys who did it.” 

In his post, More questioned what could have actually happened to him if he hadn’t told the officers that he was a student at LSU.

In response to his tweet, LSU faculty and staff have supported him. Ed Orgeron, LSU’s football coach even commented on the incident in a post to Twitter.“While I cannot comment on the investigation, what I can say is that we must work collectively to embrace our differences,” Orgeron he wrote. “We have to listen, learn, and come together to combat social injustice and racism if we are to create a safer and more equitable society for all.”

The official LSU Twitter account retweeted the coach’s post writing that they shared in “the sentiment shared by Coach Ed Orgeron.”

The three officers, who have been placed on paid leave, have yet to be identified to the public. Still, Chief Murphy Paul of the Baton Rouge Police Department said his department had been in contact with Moore and that an investigation is currently underway.

“We appreciate Mr. Moore bringing this incident to our attention,” Paul said in a statement. “As in every case, we will be collecting all available evidence and conducting interviews. Accountability and transparency are critical in building trust with the community. I pledge a thorough investigation into this complaint.”

The incident in Baton Rouge underlines that major issue in modern American politics. 

During the summer, after Breonna Taylor and George Floyd were murdered by police, Baton Rouge took part in the nationwide protests.

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Voters In Puerto Rico Took To The Polls To Vote On Statehood And A New Governor

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Voters In Puerto Rico Took To The Polls To Vote On Statehood And A New Governor

Alejandro Granadillo / Getty Images

Aas hundreds of millions of Americans took to the polls on Election Day to cast their ballots (in record-breaking numbers), voters were also showing up to the polls in Puerto Rico.

People across the island are now anxiously awaiting the results following a heated contest that saw long lines of voters and produced a tight gubernatorial race in the U.S. Caribbean territory.

It was the first election held since Hurricane Maria hit the island in 2017, causing damages estimated at more than $100 billion and killing an estimated 2,975 people. It’s also the first election since hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans took to the streets to demand the resignation of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló. The protests, now known as the “Summer of 2019,” were sparked by a leaked chat in which the then-governor and other officials made fun of hurricane victims, among other things, and made comments that led to an investigation into possible corruption.

The island’s top job is up for grabs for the first time since the last governor was forced to resign.

It’s been a rough couple of years for the island of Puerto Rico. Just last year, hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans took to the streets to demand the resignation of then Gov. Ricardo Rosselló. Now, for the first time since his resignation Puerto Ricans were able to choose their leadership.

Pedro Pierluisi of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party held a slight lead over Carlos Delgado of the Popular Democratic Party, which supports the island’s current status. More than 12,000 votes separated the top two candidates after counting more than 95% of the ballots cast Tuesday as well as some returns from early and absentee ballots, which were also still being tallied.

Pierluisi briefly served as governor following last year’s protests and previously represented Puerto Rico in Congress for eight years. He and Rosselló are from the same party.

Much like Trump, Pierluisi prematurely celebrated the results at a news conference, while Delgado said shortly after midnight that he would await final results.

“It’s irresponsible,” Delgado said of Pierluisi’s actions.

The island’s top two parties had a disappointing showing as voters look elsewhere for change.

Credit: Xavier Garcia / Getty Images

This year’s elections are also noteworthy because it’s the first time in recent history that neither of the island’s two main parties secured more than 40% of the overall vote. This is largely seen as a result of new, younger parties and candidates eroding the grip that both parties have long had on the island.

Many voters leaving the polls said that they voted for a new party because he said the New Progressives and Popular Democrats don’t deliver.

“It’s one promise after another and they don’t do anything,” one voter told Business Insider.

The island is also facing a dwindling voter base as hundreds of thousands of residents have left the island for states like Florida and New York. In this year’s election, there were 2.36 million eligible voters, compared with 2.87 million in 2016 and 2.4 million in 2012.

Despite the drop in eligible voters, the diversity of parties and candidates has increased in recent years, slowly eroding the grip that the New Progressives and Popular Democrats have had on the island’s politics for decades.

Rafael Fonseca, an administrator, told Bloomberg News he had hoped neither of the two parties would win this year.

“They’ve been doing the same thing for years and there’s no change,” he said, adding that the island’s public education system needs to be improved and wages increased to prevent the loss of young people moving to the U.S. mainland in search of work.

Voters have also appeared to support a non-binding resolution on Puerto Rican statehood.

In January, as part of Senate Bill 1467, the Puerto Rico Legislative Assembly added a referendum on statehood to the ballot. If it’s approved, the governor of Puerto Rico will appoint a seven-person commission to represent the island in statehood negotiations. If the governor then accepted the plan, it would be presented to the U.S. Congress and the president.

Full statehood for Puerto Rico would allow its residents constitutional rights that Puerto Ricans do not have: the ability to vote in presidential and congressional elections.

The non-binding referendum asked residents, “Should Puerto Rico be admitted immediately into the union as a state?”

Support for U.S. statehood was leading with more than 52%, with more than 95% of votes counted. However, U.S. Congress would have to approve of any changes to the island’s political status.

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