Hertz Calls Cops On Customer Who Gets Threatened With Deportation For Being.. Puerto Rican?

Hertz in New Orleans refused to rent to a car to a law enforcement officer of 25 years because he’s from Puerto Rico – and only presented a driver’s license and not a passport – because “he was from a foreign country.”

When the man insisted that no, he’s an American, the rental car giant called law enforcement to remove him. That’s when he was threatened to bring over immigration authorities. Puerto Rico has been a U.S. territory since 1898.

The woman then said, “Would you like me to call the police?” Marchand told her, “Yes, please, call the police.”

The woman pulled a cellphone out of one her pockets and called out an officer who told Marchand that he needed to leave. According to Marchand, as the officer then left, he threatened to “call border patrol” if the mistreated customer didn’t leave, too.

For its part, the local police department which responded claims not to have body cam footage with the remarks. Invariably body cams do not when whenever there’s embarrassing material (“it’s unclear exactly when the officer turned off the body-worn camera after dealing with Hertz’s call”).

Hertz, for its part, has refunded the prepaid reservation that they refused to honor and says that they have reminded their local office in New Orleans that “standing policy” is to accept Puerto Rico drivers licenses.

As Hertz once told me, though, “we cannot guarantee any reservation.” And they have a reputation for finding ways to have their customers arrested.

Hertz In New Orleans With Only One Car For All Their Customers

Of course TSA has been known to reject D.C. drivers licenses at airport security checkpoints, since the District of Columbia isn’t a U.S. state. And for years TSA, and other federal entities, have threatened to refuse recognition of drivers licenses that don’t comply with ‘REAL ID’ rules – so not all U.S. drivers licenses are deemed acceptable at all times. Those rules, required by a 2005 law, have been repeated pushed off – most recently until 2025.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. There are also lots of stories re: New Mexico residents having their licenses rejected because ignorant TSA / car rental / etc. front-liners never heard of the state of New Mexico and insist it’s a foreign country.

    These are corporate training failures.

  2. I once worked as a election worker in New York City. One of my fellow election workers refused to let a man vote, even though he was registered, because he had an accent and, when asked, said he was from Puerto Rico. It took a NYC policeman to instruct the election worker to allow the man to vote. This is in a city with a hugh Puerto Rican population. I’m sure this kind of thing happens all over and is embarrassing in a country like the USA>

  3. Maybe the employee and officer used to be with Southwest? They got in trouble when they started SJU service by turning in customs forms to CBP in at least one airport. And when they took over AirTran, they asked what currency is taken in Puerto Rico.

    I’ll never forget being forced to take a Geography class in college as a mandatory course… on the first day, the professor handed out a blank map of the US and said “Let’s see how badly our public schools failed you” and instructed the class to name all the states. I was done with all 50 correct about as fast as I could write (my private school you had to be able to do that to pass like the 8th grade). Plenty of time to kill after as he is going around the room going “Okay, good you found Florida. No, that isn’t Texas next to it.”

  4. The thing that’s different is that this time they call law enforcement to arrest their customers before rather than after a rental. It’s way past time for law enforcement to tell the Hertz idiots to get their act together, and stop saying “how high” when Hertz wants them to jump. I don’t rent from Hertz, and no longer consider opaque sites since there’s a risk it might be Hertz. If the only vehicle available is from Hertz, there is no vehicle available.

  5. Puerto Rico has a very complicated status or lack thereof.

    Puerto Rico isn’t a “foreign country” but it is a foreign nation. Puerto Rico has its own national Olympic committee and competes internationally as Puerto Rico, not the United States.

    While a United States territory, Puerto Rico is handled by federal agencies as a state since Bush 41 signed an executive order removing Puerto Rico from the jurisdiction of the Department of Interior that is responsible for the other U.S. territories.

    At the same time, Puerto Rico is not incorporated into the United States. Yet, Puerto Rico is part of the U.S. customs zone. Hence why the notorious Jones Act applies.

    This contrasts with Virgin Islands, where you have to clear U.S. customs when traveling between the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico or the mainland United States. The Virgin Islands is its own customs zone. Jones Act and cabotage doesn’t apply.

    Puerto Rico’s status also contrasts with American Samoa.

    American Samoa is a territory, but inhabitants don’t have United States citizenship. They have something called “nationality.” Meaning they have to carry passports and actually go through the immigration process if moving to any of the 50 states. It’s quite controversial since U.S. nationals can’t vote or run for elected office. There have been quite a few incidents of American Samoans living in Hawaii and the mainland U.S. registering to vote and then voting illegally because they didn’t know they weren’t citizens. There is literally no difference aesthetically between a U.S. citizen’s passport and a U.S. national’s passport, except one sentence of tiny, all-capital letters on a secondary page that most people don’t notice.

    Meanwhile, the nominally independent Pacific islands of Palau, the Marshall Islands, and Micronesia are “freely associated states.” While they have international recognition as sovereign countries, the U.S. more or less underwrites their countries. The USPS is their postal service, they are heavily subsidized by the Interior Department, FEMA responds to national emergencies and they can move to the U.S. and use their driver’s licenses, etc.

  6. FNT did a good job on explaining this. Then you have Guam which is a U.S. territory and the nearby Northern Mariana Islands that, through a historical accident, are a separate U.S. entity. But legally the latter are also “separate” enough to have allowed sweatshop labor conditions while putting “Made in USA” labels on clothing that never could have legally been made here. Weird.

    Anyway, as a professional geographer I do find it embarrassing how poorly most Americans know much about the history, cultures or locations of other countries–which is perhaps why so many believe the official lies that lead to hopeless wars. And New Mexico has to put “USA” on its license plates to remind others that yes, it is part of this nation. And as for Puerto Ricans, it’s just sad when people call them “foreigners”. 106 years of citizenship for the island’s residents is something they’ve never heard of.

  7. To further explain it, it’s worth adding that a United States passport IS required for the U.S. territories of Guam and American Samoa.

    While U.S. Customers and Border Protection handles immigration, Guam controls its own customs zone. But the Guam customs enforcement is essentially immigration (and probably unconstitutional if someone litigated) as the information they seek and require goes far beyond customs. American Samoa controls customs and immigration, not CBP.

    Meanwhile, the Northern Mariana Islands, another U.S. territory, lost control of its immigration because of rampant corruption and questionable Chinese influences. As a result, no passport is required to visit the Northern Mariana Islands as an American.

  8. FNT. Simples question is does PR have their own passports? When their citizens apply for passports what do they get? By your definition does Native American should be considered foreigners too? Legally they are dealt the same way. Their territory are also within the 48 states. Is that what makes the difference? Gosh our education has failed so miserably.

  9. Perhaps we need to put Hertz in charge of NYC? They seem to have a better record of arresting folks than NYC does of arresting actual law breakers.

  10. Let me sum this up more simply: stupid, uninformed people injecting their ignorance into business encounters and refusing to be receptive to the remote possibility that might be wrong, so much so that they’re willing to call law enforcement. Situation exacerbated by a law enforcement official not following the rule that the body cam should be ON so their stupidity and ignorance can also be documented.

    Sounds like everyday America to me.

  11. Once I was asked for my passport when checking into a Marriott in Arizona. I noted I was from Maine. The polite woman at the check-in desk commented, “Yes, we require a copy of the passport for all foreign visitors,” to which I replied, “well, we’re way up there in the upper-right corner, but we’re still part of of the U.S.”

  12. There seems to be an increase in alleged demands to see passports from Puerto Ricans. There was one allegedly at a grocery store in New Orleans very recently. My guess – never happened.

  13. Mike, good questions. Puerto Ricans get U.S. passports because they are U.S. citizens. Native Americans…yes, they also get them though some (not all) reservations have certain autonomous rights, but then half of the tribal members in the U.S. live in cities or private rural property. Those tribal members on reservations along the U.S.-Canadian border may have equal access to both countries, but again that varies. It is complicated!

  14. @Mike: Puerto Rico is a foreign nation within the United States. That’s neither a controversial statement nor a falsehood. As for the federally-recognized tribal nations of Indian Country, they are sovereign governments. Many, if not all, issue their own driver licenses, license plates, etc. Many, if not all, can freely cross the Canada-United States borders with their tribal identifications. During COVID, Indian reservation police even kept non-Indians off reservation laws — even in cases where a state highway went through the tribal nation.

  15. FNT you know this material very well. The issue with reservations is that the ones established post-1871 don’t have the same treaty rights. Also, many are fragmented into tiny pieces of tribal land so jurisdiction can be very difficult to maintain. Incidentally, you may like this opinion piece on establishing new states from P.R., D.C. etc.. I wrote a long comment there too: https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?ogbl#search/in%3Atrash+new+states/FMfcgzGsmWwnXpfFQGpvtNXDklbDCGzr

  16. The PR guys also handled the situation wrong.
    When confronted with a mistaken employee, you first ask to talk to the manager, if it doesn’t get resolved then you step out of the line and call CS to talk to a supervisor that will straighten the local ignorant employee/manager. The top-down approach is the only thing that works to get a resolution.
    Demanding the police to step in is the absolutely wrong thing to do as Police do not mingle into private business disputes and will only do one thing, remove the client from the premises, and that is exactly what happened.

  17. NedsKid – Just what does this article have to do with Southwest? Reading your post it is obvious that you are a smart ass who revels in demonstrating just how “superior” YOU think you are – when in reality you are nothing but a smart mouthed liberal troll.

  18. David R. Miller – the lack of understanding regarding PR permeates through even to business. And not surprising many don’t know anything remotely about PR when many American high school graduates struggle to find any place other than where they live on a blank map of the country.

    First time I have ever been accused of being a liberal. That really is a new one.

    @Mike – I agree with you. The Police are only going to trespass unless they witness something else occur in front of them (in many jurisdictions they can’t arrest for a misdemeanor unless they saw it happen, just provide a citation). And at an airport a call of a difficult customer is going to cause the predisposition to be on the side of the business, because honestly 9 times out of 10 it probably is.

  19. @FNT: Few clarifications: US nationals do not need a passport to travel to Guam or the CNMI unless you touch foreign ports en route. Territories outside the US customs zone are not exempt from Jones Act unless there are specific arrangements. And US nationality is not something only AS has. All US citizens are US nationals, but there are non-citizen nationals like American Samoans and very few Northern Marianans. And sweat shops are long gone in the CNMI. Once the wage went above $4.05, the garment industry evaporated.

  20. NedsKid – Your previous response which included throwing Southwest under the bus IS typical of a brainwashed liberal. If you don’t like being called a liberal, then quit acting like one.

  21. Louisiana man to Florida man: hold my beer.

    This whole electing that racist Kennedy senator is seeing like less of an anomaly.

  22. I was asked for my passport to take my US driver permit. I was born in the USA and grew up in the same city I took the license. The other officer said, you are born in USA, I said yes and told the other driver officer he doesn’t need to show a passport. I guess when look foreign, they assume you immigrated and not born here.

  23. @HkCaGu:

    That is simply false.

    US citizens are REQUIRED to present a passport to enter Guam and American Samoa, regardless of how they arrive in those territories. Here is a link to the official US government website on the matter: https://www.usa.gov/visit-territories#:~:text=U.S.%20citizens%20do%20need%20a,American%20Samoa

    Guam and the US Virgin Islands are exempt from certain cabotage commonly known as the Jones Act. Specifically, the US Virgin Islands with maritime cabotage.

  24. Take a poll in the red states. I bet at least half of the people there, if not more, have no clue that Puerto Rico is a US territory. The ignorance is unreal.

  25. @Tom
    Yep, I had my New Mexico driver’s license rejected at several bars and restaurants in Chicago for being not a state years ago. There wasn’t a TSA back then, but surely I would have had trouble with that too.

  26. @David_R._Miller They do know what a woman is. In their minds a woman is: property of her man, to be told what she can and cannot do; someone who is to submit to her man in all things, including the pleasures of the flesh; undeserving of equal compensation for the same job; things that “bring it on themselves” through their actions, their dress or their mere presence. Yes, I’m sure the fine conservatives of Louisiana know exactly what a woman is.

  27. There are far too many grunt brains out there who did not pay attention in school and their entire learnin’ came from Facebook, TikTok or Fox News.

    I read something in the New York Times a couple days ago that interviewed some people about the way politicians talked. They couldn’t understand Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama because they were too educated and their speech reflected that. They understood The Donald perfectly well because his speech was (and is) at a very base level and that’s how they talked. I suspect George W. Bush was similar.

  28. @FNT: Don’t challenge me (former GU resident, know all kinds of people traveling stateside). You’ve quoted a USA.gov page that’s simply wrong. United runs the show and still maintain no passport requirement flying HNL-GUM alone: https://www.united.com/ual/en/us/fly/travel/id/travel.html

    (Think about it. How do you travel between stateside and Saipan without a passport but not Guam? There are no other domestic air routes.)

    From HNL to GUM and from GUM to SPN (or other CNMI ports), there is no requirement or USCBP checkpoint beyond an ID for TSA. In the reverse direction, passengers need to prove their admissibility, and for US nationals it doesn’t have to be a passport.

    The Marianas (GU/MP) has essentially no cabotage exemptions and still suffer high shipping cost.

  29. @ChadMC — Americans least able to identify Ukraine on a map are also the most eager to have the US involved in the war. https://www.geocurrents.info/blog/2014/04/30/american-geographical-illiteracy-perhaps-worlds-worst-atlas/

    “The Washington Post article referred to above indicates that Democrats and Republicans are equally clueless about Ukraine, with only 14 and 15 percent of respondents respectively able to locate the country. Political independents, however, performed much better, with a 29 percent success rate.”

    I strongly advise turning off cable news and touching some grass.

  30. @HkCaGu:

    I lived in Guam too. I know for a fact that Guam’s customs, which operate a checkpoint, require an American to present a passport and will not accept a state-issued driver license even though they are not immigration. Immigration in Guam is the responsibility of the US government. In American Samoa, the American Samoa government handles immigration and customs. The Northern Mariana Islands has transitioned to US government-controlled customs and immigration hence no passport required, assuming you can get a purely domestic flight to/from Saipan.

    As for cabotage, while the Jones Act maritime cabotage requirements don’t strictly apply to Guam they essentiaklly apply because Guam is primarily dependent upon Matson and/or other Jones Act-subjected maritime shipping carriers that serve Hawaii.

  31. Its easy to understand why a college degree has become useless these days.

  32. This is what you get when you hire complete idiots. What is even more surprising is that Hertz hasn’t fired the individuals responsible — up to the regional managers — because what is happening is there fault. Management is responsible for training the front line customer service employees. Apparently, they haven’t been doing that — they need to be fired — all the way up to the regional managers.

    I have never rented a car from Hertz, and never will. I’m doing my part to make sure that a terrible company like Hertz will eventually go out of business.

  33. @FNT: You’re still wrong. I and everyone I know have never heard of GCQA asking for passports. Yes, if you come in from international, they ask for that, but there is absolutely no ID requirement beyond TSA flying from HNL into GUM. You actually get routed directly to Guam customs if you’re coming in from domestic (SPN/ROP/HNL) because there is no immigration. If you fly SPN/ROP/HNL-GUM and onward to any destination, you just walk into the terminal, as you’re already screened by TSA, and GCQA is not interested in screening you if you’re not entering Guam.

    The CNMI still has its own customs agency. 2009 did not change that. It was CNMI’s previous immigration/visa/work permit autonomy that was federalized. Arriving in SPN, with or without immigration, you still go through CNMI customs before exiting.

    US customs zone is only 50+DC+PR. Every other territory has its own customs agency, except that USVI delegates customs functions to USCBP. As a result there’s almost no inspection flying US/PR to VI but they’re right there to pre-clear customs for US/PR passengers.

  34. NedsKid , what is wrong with you? Is it so hard to accept that not everybody shares your political views? How would you feel if somebody said that he was “accused” of being a conservative? This country doesn’t belong to any one political party or ideology. If you think it does, stop calling yourself American because you are against everything that a free society stands for.

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