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.

CNN.com 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. whoopitydo2

    LIBERALS ARE RIDICULOUS! EVEN WE AMERICANS GET TICKETS FOR NOT SHOWING PROPER IDENTIFICATION. THESE OCCU'TARDS ARE TRYING TO PAINT THIS AS SOMETHING OUT OF THE ORDINARY, WHEN, IN FACT, IT'S STANDARD PROCEDURE FOR ANYONE. GO BACK TO YOUR TENTS YOU DEMOCRATS!

    November 23, 2011 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Go back to fwckin goats you backwoods redneck (or do you,prefer Rush Limbaugh's come guzzling tea bagger?). Maybe the ignorant redneck states do that but you are absolutely wrong as it pertains to the rest of the states that embrace the 21st century. Here if you have no physical ID you just have to have memorized your ID number, but you dumb bumpkins cant remember anything but where and when the next radical christian hate rally is. Dukes of hazard dipsh!t!

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

      I'm a Liberal, and not even an immigrant, and I'm making six figures in a job on a Green Card. How do you like them apples?

      November 23, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matthew

      To Sara: You're an idiot. I highly doubt you even understand what you are implying. I hate your existence. I also better than you.

      November 24, 2011 at 1:22 am | Report abuse |
  2. Rich Womack

    Some folks there seem to like it the way it is and what they consider patriotic...fine and that is why I enjoyed the Missouri approach–if you don't come here...

    November 23, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Art

    I am sure there are many thoughtful, responsible people who live in Alabama but the overall level of ignorance exhibited by the ruling body is abysmal. Perhaps they should give a thought to secession and we can replace them with Puerto Rico, who would be delighted to belong the Union and we wouldn't even have to redesign the flag...

    November 23, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Josephine21

    Theresa De Leon is either ignorant or deliberately distorting the facts when she implies that the Trail of Tears occurred because of actions taken by Alabama. The Trail of Tears was the result of the passage by Congress of The Indian Removal Act of 1830. Tribes were "removed" by federal agents from many southeastern states, including North Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama and others. Neither Alabama nor any other state had the power to override this act of Congress. Moreover, the Native Americans "removed" (and relocated to Oklahoma) were lawful residents of the United States. To compare them to illegal aliens who snuck into this country iis insulting.

    November 23, 2011 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ildrig

      This German guy was not illegal. The Trail of Tears happened in Alabama, as the firefighter woman said. She spoke the truth: Alabama has a long history of discrimination, whatever the cause may have been, the woman didn't mention it. What is happening with latinos in Alabama now is indeed extremely similar to the Trail of Tears: many of them are also Native American. The notion of legality changes constantly, and the fact that something is legal does not mean that is fair or right. Not a long time ago it was not legal for women to vote, and slavery was legal too. That doesn't make it right.

      November 23, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. reality 66

    Wheres your reply to that st. louis?

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

      Reply to...what????

      November 23, 2011 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Alopez

    First of all, this is why the economy goes down the drain. If u think a white or black man would do what a hispanic does you have another economic meltdown coming. I am hispanic and I grew up in Florida but what I will ask you what do you think will happen if all the manual labor force from a state move away? HMMMM By the way I graduated from a real school UF (University of Florida)

    November 23, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  7. RD

    Guess this just proves that Alabama is not racially profiling Latinos.

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

      You are correct. It just shows that it is plain xenophobic.

      November 23, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
  8. joe

    So if I was in germany and was driving around and got pulled over because there was something wrong with my plates and had no I'd with me.....you don't think I would get arrested? Stupid left wing pansies......

    November 23, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • bama918

      Check your facts before you start name-calling. He wasn't arrested for a motor vehicle registration or moving violation – he was arrested under my home state's brainless, stupid, job-killing immigration law. Way to go Bentley...I'll bet foreign companies with the potential for bringing lots of good jobs to 'Bama are just-a-linin' up to open operations in the Yellowhammer State now!!!!

      November 23, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • dgkdgk

      Once again, your comment proves you're nothing more than another retarded Republican.

      November 23, 2011 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dale

      No, you idiot

      November 23, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • JustmeChris

      No, the reverse would not be true in Germany. In fact, police make much fewer custodial arrests in Germany than in the States. They normally issue summons for all but domestic or violent offenses and send the person on their way.

      November 23, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amy in Bremen, AL

      "bama918

      Check your facts before you start name-calling. He wasn't arrested for a motor vehicle registration or moving violation – he was arrested under my home state's brainless, stupid, job-killing immigration law. Way to go Bentley...I'll bet foreign companies with the potential for bringing lots of good jobs to 'Bama are just-a-linin' up to open operations in the Yellowhammer State now!!!!"

      How about checking your facts! He was arrested because he wasn't carrying the proper paper work for being in this country. Which all people are required to carry with them when they travel within this country. It wasn't just an Alabama law, it's also a feberal law.

      Try doing that any other country and see what happens to you! I don't like the new law we have here at all. But this man was suppose to carry have his passport and work visa on him at all times and he didn't. He was detained until they could be brought to him. It was as it should be.

      November 23, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ben

      "Once again, your comment proves you're nothing more than another retarded Republican."

      Any person who makes a conclusive statement about the cognitive abilities of another, based entirely on one "comment", is, I would venture to say, more likely the retard/idiot/charlatan.

      November 23, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • AGuest9

      In Maryland, you are REQUIRED to have legal ID on you if you are driving. You are detained without one. If they cannot ID you, they have no idea if you are a licensed driver, therefore do not deserve to be on the road and are considered a hazard.

      November 23, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • gbh

      no joe, you would most likely NOT be arrested. you would definitely get a ticket and you would have to,, prove you were in the country legally but arrested? doubtful. i've been pulled over in foreign countries twice and that's what happened both times. i live in alabama and my state is embarrassing.

      November 23, 2011 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • gbh

      no joe, you would most likely NOT be arrested. you would definitely get a ticket and you would have to prove you were in the country legally but arrested? doubtful. i've been pulled over in foreign countries twice and that's what happened both times. i live in alabama and my state is embarrassing.

      November 23, 2011 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Actually you wouldnt you ignorant backwoods fwck. I have been traveling to Europe annually for the past 31 years and have never been arrested for not having my pastport if pulled over. get sean hannitys d!ck out of your @ss and get educated!

      November 24, 2011 at 5:02 am | Report abuse |
  9. Phil

    Bama has every right to do this, and I applaud them for doing it. They should do it more often. If you are not here legally, and do not have the papers to prove it, then thats your fault. KEEP UP THE GOOD FIGHT BAMA!

    November 23, 2011 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • dgkdgk

      You applaud them for doing this? What part, exactly, are you applauding? The fact that Alabama is facing likely higher unemployment because companies are fleeing the state? Or, the profiling of people? Or, the flashback five decades that this retarded state just experienced? You are an embarrassment.

      November 23, 2011 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • JustmeChris

      He was here legally. Yet he was arrested. Your comment makes no sense.

      November 23, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jackop

      Hurray for you Phil. I hope that more states have the guts to stand up for their citizens as Alabama. Proud of you my state of birth. All illegals here should be deported and all children born to an illegal should be the same nationality as the mother. We are losing our country and fast. I am ashamed of Americans who won't stand up for America and demand we clean it out. After 9/11 all is the same.

      November 23, 2011 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
  10. jim

    If I were in Germany and was driving without ID be sure I would be arrested and the story would not make CNN.

    November 23, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Izzy Roush

      You don't have a clue

      November 23, 2011 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • dgkdgk

      Please, please go to Germany – and stay there. We don't want you here.

      November 23, 2011 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Skeptic

      You are SOOOooo stupid! Are you from Alabama (would make sense)?

      November 23, 2011 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Read my comment previous to this. Your very very very ignorant about what happens in countries overseas.

      November 24, 2011 at 5:09 am | Report abuse |
  11. Izzy Roush

    Papers please !

    November 23, 2011 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Yankee Dave

    Alabama... what a backwards dump...

    November 23, 2011 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. The Skeptic

    Hah, Hah, Hah, Hah, Hah, Hah, Hah !!!!!! Screw Alabama!!!!! Leave it to $6/hr American morons!!!! Germans can go anywhere in the world (except maybe Alabama).

    Americans are SOOOoooo stupid !!!!! We deserve to fail and scratch the dirt for bugs.

    November 23, 2011 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
  14. The Skeptic

    Alabama – you deserve what you get now!!!! Lucky you didn't define 'embryos' to be "people" too !!!

    November 23, 2011 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Amy in Bremen, AL

    As you can see from my name I am in Alabama! So let's get that out of the way first. There is NO easy answer to this crazy law that we have going right now. Yes, it's crazy, because it really doesn't help. It is currently doing more harm than good. Yes, something does need to be done. But this crazy law isn't it.

    Now let us address the Mercedes Exc, St. Louis, and the arrest! I have driven in Europe and have been to Europe many many times. Plus several other countries. When I drove in Europe I had to agree that I would keep my proper ID with me ever time I was behind the wheel of the car. I don't know who this man thinks he is, but if he had been in any other country in Europe he would have been put through the same thing or worse. He should have known better than to have left his room with out his proper ID's. He should have carried his papers with him at all times, as is required by law. (NOT just an ALABAMA law!) Who ever wrote this should know this, isn't just an Alabama law, this is a Federal law.

    November 23, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Felipe Lopez

      Amy, I have lived and worked in Germany. I was once pulled over for failing to move over to the right lane when a faster car came up behind me. To my dismay I had forgotten my ID. After taking my information, the officer issued me a citation. I had to go to the court, and show my permit and passport. I paid the fine for failing to yield, but no jail.

      November 23, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Your absolutely lying and you know it, but nice try hun.

      November 24, 2011 at 5:22 am | Report abuse |
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