Longform

When It Comes to Identification, Prisoners Are Held in Higher Esteem Than Migrants

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Eduardo Pym and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day . . . After a Very Bad Day.

Born in Puebla, Mexico, Eduardo obviously has no American birth certificate. Brought here when he was 1, he attended P.T. Coe Elementary School, Pueblo Middle School, and Metro Tech High School, where he studied drafting and discovered that he was an artist.

What he didn't know was that he was undocumented. His mom didn't tell him until he was 18.

By then, he was trying to bring in a few bucks with his artistic chops.

He was painting the hood of a car but needed clear coat and went to Auto Zone to get it. Because the liquid is also huffed by kids looking to get high, you have to sign for it and produce identification.

"I carried my high school transcript around with me. It had my photo and birthdate. But no one would accept it, " Eduardo says.

"I was told: 'We can't take school ID.'"

Lacquer was the least of his issues.

"In December 2013, I got a scholarship check, but it was so difficult to cash it without proper identification. "

Finding someone to cash his scholarship check became a nightmare.

"I missed signup for the class. I had to wait a semester to take graphic design at Phoenix College."

Many of the obstacles are more mundane.

"My friends invite me to bars. The other day, I was at First Friday. I waited in line to get into Lost Leaf. [The bar] wouldn't let me in. Same thing with movies. I went to see an exorcism movie. It's R-rated, but I'm 22. Couldn't get in. Same thing at the FilmBar.

Ana Tijoux is a French-Chilean rapper. Her dissident parents were arrested by Augusto Pinochet, and when they were released they fled to France. Tijoux's lyrics are devoid of machismo and violence.

For me, my search wasn't a matter of scene It was something necessary that already marked my failure So everything more than necessary was when I understood That everyone wants to be a pirate.

You can hear her music on Breaking Bad.

When she appeared last October at Crescent Ballroom, Eduardo tried to get in. Of course, he couldn't because he doesn't have an Arizona driver's license.

Because he doesn't have an American birth certificate, he can't get an Arizona driver's license.

But he drives.

In February 2014, he dropped off a friend at 39th Avenue and Encanto Boulevard when a policeman pulled him over.

"He asked if I had any weapons in the car as I gave him my insurance and registration. Lacking a driver's license, I gave him my high school transcript and my school ID.

"He asked again if I had a weapon, and did I mind if he searched my car. He told me I was doing 21 in a 25 [mile per hour zone].

"He instructed me to get out of the car. Then he started searching."

Because Eduardo still is a kid, because he's worked on political campaigns, because he is an artist, his sense of being bulletproof is real enough. So, naturally, he began recording the incident on his cell phone.

Eduardo promptly was arrested for failure to provide identification. He spent 18 hours in jail. When he got out, he tried to get his cell phone back from the police.

The police informed him that he would need identification to get his phone back. And, no, as a matter of fact, they would not accept his school ID or his school transcript.

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Michael Lacey
Contact: Michael Lacey