When Frank Burgos and Yashira Rivera left their Hurricane Maria-ravaged hometown of San Juan, Puerto Rico to visit family in Sacramento, a night on the town was in order, but abruptly challenged by a bouncer who refused to accept their Puerto Rican IDs as legitimate enough identification to enter the bar.
According to MSNBC affiliate KCRA3, the couple hit up Dive Bar on K Street, a reportedly popular nightlife attraction known for its mermaid shows, but was told their IDs were invalid by the bouncer. “‘No, we cannot accept these IDs,’” Burgos recalled. “And then he asked for a passport, and I said, ‘I didn’t have them with me.’ So we left.”
In case you’re confused, don’t worry, you should be—Puerto Rican IDs look like any other U.S. government issued identification, with all the requisite information, photographs, and scannable bar on the back. If Burgos and Rivera were able to fly from San Juan to Sacramento using their IDs, gaining entry into a dive bar really shouldn’t have been an issue.
“I was really surprised,” said Burgos. “I travel a lot, and I have never encountered the problem.”
In Dive Bar’s defense, personnel claims the bar is required to scan all IDs handed to them, and that since Burgos and Rivera’s IDs weren’t scannable, and no other form of identification was provided, legally, entry had to be refused. Of course, their IDs did have a scannable bar on the back, and Burgos claims the bouncer didn’t even try to use it before rejecting them.
“No, he just looked at it with a flashlight,” said Burgos. “He said he could not accept the ID, and that’s it.”
PatronScan, which made the scanner used by Dive Bar, said its scanners recognize 3,800 government issued IDs, including the Puerto Rican variety used by Burgos and Rivera. When a PatronScan manager inquired as to what occurred at Dive Bar that night, the bar claimed the bouncer might not have scanned the couple’s IDs, but that their dress code must not have been up to snuff if they were refused entry.
This, of course, makes you wonder why passports were demanded in the first place, let alone that the couple was wearing button-down collared shirts, dress shoes, and a dress with heels. One plausible theory, unfortunately, is that racial discrimination was at the root of this unnecessarily negative interaction, plain and simple.