After exec's arrest, St. Louis paper slams Alabama on immigration, courts Mercedes
Mercedes, Alabama's largest exporter, says it's responsible for 10,000 direct and indirect jobs in the region.
November 23rd, 2011
12:35 PM ET

After exec's arrest, St. Louis paper slams Alabama on immigration, courts Mercedes

It’s not often that a newspaper can attack another state, pontificate on a hot-button national issue and deliver a targeted economic development pitch in one go.

That’s what the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board did Tuesday with its open letter, “Hey, Mercedes, time to move to a more welcoming state.”

News surfaced this week that police in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, recently pulled over a man because of a problem with a tag on his rental car. The man, who was German, didn’t have handy what the state considers proper identification, so he was arrested under a provision of Alabama’s immigration law, which is considered the strictest in the land.

Turns out, the man was Detlev Hager, a 46-year-old Mercedes-Benz executive traveling on business. About 10,000 people in the region rely on the company for their livelihood, according to Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, which happens to be the state’s largest exporter.

Hager – one of 66 people charged with not having proper identification since October 1 – had his charges dropped after an associate tendered Hager's passport and German driver’s license, the Tuscaloosa News reported.

Not before the Post-Dispatch took its shot, though.

“Carpetbaggers never have been treated very kindly in the South, though we would have thought exceptions would have been made for those with SUV factories in their carpetbags,” the editorial said.

The newspaper went on to say Mercedes should move its SUV plant to Missouri, “the Show-Me State, not the ‘Show me your papers’ state.”

Citing the state's laxer (but still serious) immigration law, abundance of trained autoworkers, proud German heritage, predilection for “hard work and beer” and a potential $100 million in tax incentives, the newspaper implored the German automaker to consider new digs, perhaps in Fenton.

“You've got two choices,” the paper told Mercedes. “Either ask your executives to carry their immigration papers at all times, or move to a state that understands gemüchlichkeit,” the German word for "comfort."

It was the latest assault on Alabama’s immigration law, which can count the U.S. departments of Justice and Homeland Security among its detractors. was in Alabama last month when the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the state from enforcing provisions of the law until larger constitutional questions could be addressed.

While several people, including nonimmigrants who had found work after an exodus of Latinos from the state’s tomato farms, applauded Alabama’s tough stance, others told CNN they were concerned the legislation could paint the state as bigoted and intolerant.

Here we go again with the negative stigma of Alabama. Do we ever get out of it?” asked Theresa De Leon, Birmingham's first Hispanic female firefighter.

She cited the Trail of Tears from the 1800s and last century’s Jim Crow laws as past attempts to displace or disrupt entire peoples.

Last week, the Justice Department filed a brief in the 11th Circuit calling the state law an unconstitutional mandate that threatens “the most basic human needs.”

In its Tuesday editorial, the Tuscaloosa News said the law is sure to cost Alabama many jobs. It said a Chinese company was already having second thoughts about putting a $100 million plant in economically depressed Thomasville because the company feels it isn't "welcome because of the immigration law.”

“The immigration law is becoming the greatest threat to the state’s economy and job creation, overshadowing even the record-setting bankruptcy of Jefferson County,” the paper’s editors wrote. “Global corporations must be asking themselves whether their international employees — those with legal work permits — are welcome in Alabama.”

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Filed under: Alabama • Auto Industry • Automobiles • Civil Rights • Courts • Economy • Immigration • Jobs • Politics • U.S.
soundoff (850 Responses)
  1. Slim_Sammy

    Seems that some people prefer to blame the effect rather than the cause.
    Cause = illegals.
    Effect = anti-illegal laws.

    November 23, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
  2. josh

    come on what else would you expect from this inbreeding retards.they dont know any better,that's why they like to push the sheep over the fence.

    November 23, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Get a Clue

      You son are the modern day descent of the K K K. Enjoy your hate before it consumes you.

      November 23, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Coach Lew

    For Christ sake, should the car NOT have been pulled over? If it were me I could have told them I was the Governor of Rhode Island and the police would have never known the difference. So is this German speaking guy, with an accent and who knows, maybe only a German I.D to be let go. In the future if so called diplomats/millionaires/etc are going to be driving themselves around they should be issued florescent colored license plates that say United States V.I.P, DO NOT STOP THIS VEHICLE.

    November 23, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • CircusTrainer

      with an accent and who knows – maybe a swastika on his forehead – Christ does not have anything to do with this but did warn us about the mark of the beast.

      November 23, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Get a Clue

    It never ceases to amaze me that otherwise intelligent people become so ignorant and prejudiced when they talk about Alabama. If the St. Louis Post-Dispatch or CNN applied this kind of sloppy research and thinking to race or ethnicity, they would be crushed under the weight of the backlash. But somehow it is OK to make ignorant, ill-informed statements about the "rednecks" in Alabama. I lived in Germany and in Tuscaloosa. Germans in their own country are required to carry proper ID in public – as are all Auslander (foreigers). Germany has national ID cards. Alabama is a good fit for Germans because the folks in Alabama actually respect the law and apply it uniformly – as Germans do. It does not matter whether you are a Mercedes executive or an illegal immigrant. The same laws apply to everyone. I translated for Mercedes executives when they took their driver's license exams in Alabama. The Germans with Mercedes like and respect Alabama. I wish that I could say the same of my fellow Americans who write such biased trash.

    November 23, 2011 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matthew

      You are asking too much. Most Americans are.... distasteful. I do respect your humble approach.

      November 24, 2011 at 1:16 am | Report abuse |
  5. Change

    I'm sure the people of Alabama are decent hard working tax paying Americans just like in all 52 American states and there's good and bad everywhere. I live in the Northeast and I disagree with you that this driver would have been arrested in New York City. No Sir, we don't have such discriminatory and outrageous laws here in New York. Your state of Alabama had slaves for four hundred years but in New York we welcome peoples of the world with open arms regardless of their race, ethnicity or nationality and we are proud to call our state The Empire State, a Melting Pot of God's children. Maybe one day Alabama could learn a few things from The Big Apple.

    November 23, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Asturiano

    Just cause he's white doesn't mean he's exempt from the law. Just remember that old tune...."you asked for it...Toyota..."

    November 23, 2011 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
  7. opinion8it

    brainwashed people do brainwashy things - thank you fox news.

    November 23, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. BinMesa

    "they were concerned the legislation could paint the state as bigoted and intolerant"

    Sorry Alabama I already knew you where bigoted and intolerant.

    November 23, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Debbie

      Thee guy should have had his passport and license on him if he was going to drive. His fault. Even the rich and powerful are not exempt from jail. Law is law,. If you don't like Alabama, stay out of the state but also stay out of the south. We're laid back and don't take any crap.

      November 23, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • legal texan

      The German should have had what the law says he should carry with him. I'm sick of hearing these idiots attack Americans for demanding some control over who comes and goes in their country, it's not the loyal Americans that are wrong, it is the leftists in our country that have no sense of patriotism, no allegiance to our sovereign nation, and most of all, no revulsion at the socio-economic change that is being forced on Americans by an illegal , militant invasion!

      November 23, 2011 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Debbie does Dixie

      10k jobs....typical southern.....we'll take your jobs but won't take your crap. Go back to your trailer.

      November 23, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dr Reality

      Try traveling abroad without passport ID and see how far you get, then get back to us when you get out of jail and put on a plane back to the States.

      November 23, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • kissincousins

      @Debbie We're laid back AND we don't take any crap? xD Classic

      November 23, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • zedthehead

      Wow, stereotyping a whole state as if everyone thinks and acts the same. Almost worse than the rednecks that passed this bill.

      November 23, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • William T. Sherman

      i agree. Let Alabama with its robust manufacturing sector create their own jobs. They hate everybody anyway. (except their sisters)
      In the south exists a disdain of all people of color except white and inbred.
      Besides those dumb hillbillies are probably making the stuff all wrong anyway
      -Gen Sherman

      November 23, 2011 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • DanW

      I don't know how something like this would have been handled in Germany. I know that when I travel internationally I keep my passport on me at all times just in case. So if the man was handled respectfully I don't have a problem with it. What I do have a problem with is the rednecks who are whoopin' and hollerin' about "stay out of the south" and "leftists ...that have no sense of patriotism." What company would want such as these working for them?

      November 23, 2011 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      Dr Reality
      I travel abraod all the time, always leave passport etc. in the hotel safe, never even been asked to show papers. You, it appears, have never been out of Alabama

      November 23, 2011 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Roman

      I travel to many countries every year for business. The first thing I do when I get to my hotel is put my passport in the room's safe. I always carry my US driver's license with me but never my passport. Those who claim that you need to carry your passport with you at all times in other countries probably have never been out of their own state. If he did not have the license he rented the car with, he should have got a ticket, but he should not have been sent to jail.

      November 23, 2011 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • cheif

      stay out of the south? umm no just try to avoid the rural areas where all the hicks live, youre welcome in any southern city but we warned even we avoid the countryside thats where all those still fighting education and the civil war live

      November 23, 2011 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kay

      I remain astonished at how many people don't seem to grasp the fact that Alabama isn't a keep comparing Alabama to "other" countries. Hint: Alabama is just *one* of 50 states (were *that* many kids sick that day in elementary school?)...and this guy would *not* have been jailed in most of them.

      And many thanks to those who have already pointed out to "Debbie" that "we're really laid back" doesn't go at all well with "we don't take any crap".

      November 23, 2011 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mark9988

    Gemütlichkeit is a word. "Gemüchlichkeit" is not.

    November 23, 2011 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  10. KeithTexas

    Politicians everywhere do things without ever considering the consequences. Alabama politicians are no more ignorant than any other. It is too bad they listened to the Xenophobic haters and wrote a law for them.

    November 23, 2011 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      How is this law ignorant? Do you drive without your driver's license? No? Good, the visiting foreigner shouldn't drive without an International Driver's license and/or passport. It's even more important to follow basic laws when your in a foreign country. Common sense. Follow the law or pay the price.

      November 23, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian


      November 23, 2011 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kay

      Sorry, Brian...but Alabama isn't a foreign country. It's a frickin' state.

      November 23, 2011 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. John Brown

    Romney and the rest of Republican support this anti immigrant law. They block all the job bills. They kill all the job creation bill. They block the tax for the millionaire. They want to privatize every single thing here. What they want is to enslave the 99% American and charge every single thing after they abolish police, firefighter, army, teachers and etc. It's all under American incorporated.

    Gingrich even want to enslave kids under 14 years to work. He said so they can have extra saving. lol. Republican says minimum wage is illegal. Bargaining right is wrong. They even claim Jesus hates tax. What the h*ck? lol

    These Republican keep lying. They use any trick.

    Vote for them will be the end of America.

    November 23, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dr Reality

      Vote for anyone in the two party sham and it's the end of American. If you are arguing in support of Democrats you are just as stupid as the people chomping at the bit to vote Republican.

      November 23, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Robin Bray

    Alabama, dumber than Texas and Arizona. And that is not easy.

    November 23, 2011 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. joeinalabama

    I suspect the German citizen wasn't surprised, if you were stopped in Germany and didn't have proper ID you would be detained until it was produced. I was talking to a friend of mine that just returned from Germany, he was there about 2 months, said he was stopped 2 or 3 times at train stations and ask for his passport, showed it to the officer and was on his way.

    November 23, 2011 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • joe

      It's called customs. I've been to Europe dozens of times and I can't recall even once being randomly stopped and asked for my passport. I leave it in the hotel safe to make sure it isn't stolen if I'm robbed.

      Think before you make up stories. Some people have actually been to Germany and know that you're making things up.

      November 23, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kay

      Sorry, but the *other* joe is right. You do *not* have to carry that stuff with you whenever you're out and about in Germany. And, yes, leaving your passport in the hotel safe is a common practice because you do *not* have to have it on you at all times.

      Heck, your friend even said he was ONLY asked for his passport/ID at train stations. That should have been your first clue.

      November 23, 2011 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Dr Reality

    This is what pretty much every other country in the world does and for good reason. More garbage propaganda from the jerks that own CNN and make oodles and oodles of money running their businesses with illegals instead of paying fair wages to American citizens.

    November 23, 2011 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josephine21

      So true. The open borders people are at it again.

      November 23, 2011 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      A lot of us travel abroad frequently – I've been to more than 30 countries – and I have never been stopped and randomly asked for ID. And by the way – a few years ago in CA, a friend was stopped while driving a rental car at night (didn't have lights on) and the cops realized it was a RENTAL car and waved him on ... apparently they can't connect the dots in Aabama and realize that to rent a car in the first place, you've shown ID and insurance ...

      November 23, 2011 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ildrig

      What do you know about other countries? Which countries are you talking about? Have you been to all of them? Are you talking of your personal experience visiting other countries or are you just making things up?

      November 23, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • DanW

      Ildrig, perhaps I have been more paranoid than I needed to be based on Sarah's posts. I haven't traveled extensively, but I have been to Mexico, Canada, UK, Germany, Austria. I've never been stopped, so I don't know what kind of ID would be asked for. Based on what I have read here, keeping my passport in a hotel safe sounds like a good idea. What is your real point?

      November 23, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kay

      Good grief!!! Alamaba is a STATE!!! Alabama is *NOT* a country. So why on earth are you talking about "other" countries???

      November 23, 2011 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse |
  15. SantaFeJack

    Alabama has been known for ignorant and stupid citizens. Their new low just reinforces that view.

    November 23, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
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