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. Charly Brains

    I love TEXAS. This state doesn't get in trouble with immigration laws other than the ones already active and everybody is welcome to work there. Oh, did I forget to mention that is one of the states with more diversity of immigrants and also, one of the wealthiest states of the whole United States? even the recession is not slowing down the economy of this state... would that be because of the latino force? hmmm... interesting assumption... meanwhile whether that's true or not, I just love TEXAS...!

    November 24, 2011 at 1:29 am | Report abuse |
    • DoNotWorry

      Don't believe it. I spent nearly 30 years in Texas and it is one of the poorest places I've seen. I'm in Seattle now and it is RICH compared to Dallas or Houston either one.

      November 24, 2011 at 5:40 am | Report abuse |
  2. Phil in Oregon

    If anyone knowingly 'warmly comforts' people in the act of committing a crime, they commit a crime of the same degree. I should know – I spent a year in prison for doing the exact same thing. St. Louie might reconsider how bad they want that auto plant...

    November 24, 2011 at 1:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Phil in Oregon

      btw I don't hate immigrants, I just know it's cheaper, easier, less dangerous, and leaves them with a clean conscience if they come to the US through the front door. If I catch you sneaking in my house through the back door I might shoot you.

      November 24, 2011 at 1:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Like anyone should consider what a dirty ex-con has to say.

      November 24, 2011 at 4:57 am | Report abuse |
  3. Jim

    It's a shame the entire Southeast region except South Florida doesn't fall into the ninth circle of hell where it belongs.

    November 24, 2011 at 1:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Anya Khan

      Yank idiot

      November 24, 2011 at 2:19 am | Report abuse |
  4. Anya Khan

    I have to carry my passport and IDP with me at all times, why not a rich German? When St Louis stops being a urder haven I'll listen to them, until that glorious day they should look in the mirror

    November 24, 2011 at 2:18 am | Report abuse |
  5. DoNotWorry

    And they keep saying that illegals only take jobs Americans wouldn't accept 🙂

    November 24, 2011 at 5:38 am | Report abuse |
  6. Terry T

    You mean Missorry lets people drive without drivers licenses. Wow, no wonder they say people from there can't drive. He was arrested because he didn't have a valid driver's license, not the lie about immigration papers. He's not an immigrant. Since he's not in the license database, officers couldn't check to see if he was driving legally or was even who he said he was, so he was arrested. When someone he contacted went and got his license from his hotel, he was released. Why are people making more of this than there is. It has nothing to do with the immigration law.

    November 24, 2011 at 6:34 am | Report abuse |

    anyway happy holidays to all

    November 24, 2011 at 7:35 am | Report abuse |
    • roadtosturgis

      Had he been a legal American and had no ID, he would have been arrested as well. If Missouri wants to cry foul about this perhaps we should buy bus tickets for all the illegals here in California. They obviously support bashing other Americans and our processes in favor of Illegal Aliens rights perhaps the writer of this paper needs to go report in Mexico.....oops I forgot they would kill him if he wrote about his pov..perhaps he could go to Iran....oh oops they would jail him immediately after he crossed the border illegally......perhaps Sudan.......nope they would gut him for crossing the border illegally. OK France it is because France has been so completely overrun with Illegal Aliens that it is no longer France......see France the new Muslim state!

      November 24, 2011 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • jenn

      My husband and me were stationed in Germany many years ago. We live near the French boarder and we were stopped at searched about once a week by the German Zoll. We always had our id and they always let us go. We were body searched many times and had out car searched many times. They found nothing and we went on our way. That was just the way it was and we followed the rules as did all the other Americans stationed there. We did not march and protest and demand our rights. Hispanics need to get over it and carry and id!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      November 25, 2011 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Geoerge

      The Alabama law makes me laugh...I feel sorry for the people who live in this backward state with a funny name.
      To me Alabama has always been a joke.I wonder why we did not trade it to the Mexicans..And now they are chasing away people who came to invest in this insignificant state.
      It will be not too long until cops start arresting other hispanic looking cops.I have no doubt that the USA is in its final days of bankruptcy-both moral and financial.And when eventually the US follows the path of the Roman Empire I don;t think anyone will ever shed a tear...

      November 26, 2011 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Whit30

    What everyone fails to understand is how much illegal aliens cost the country financially. The lack of medical coverage; however hospitals still have to treat them. The lack of education and the need for special services in education. I could go on. The average child costs the tax payer about 10k a year. Now, multiply that by 3 or 4 children. How about the crime too?I know not every Hispanic is a criminal but that is more money that we pay for services. And– before anyone calls me racist, I have LEGAL Hispanic relatives, so that dog don't hunt as the say down South. Where I am from, an illegal with no insurance or drivers license, ran over an elderly couple on the sidewalk. It killed them. He packed his things up and went somewhere else back to Mexico. Where was the justice for that family? It isn't racism, it is economical. That 1.00 head of lettuce you buy at the grocery store is really costing you 50.00. Look it up- CNN money did a report on that years ago.

    November 24, 2011 at 8:17 am | Report abuse |
    • murphy2012

      Good post. My friend was struck by a illegal immigrant driver, who surprisingly did not have insurance (sarcasm included). The result was a shattered hip. The illegal immigrant is judgement proof so guess who's paying it – my friends insurance company. Who does that cost get passed on to? The rest of us!

      November 24, 2011 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      The south is also full of useless LEGAL citizens who suck up all the resources and contribute nothing in return

      Why do I have to support them just because they were born near me?

      The only truth I know is,I breathe the air,I can breathe the air anywhere air exists,and I can go wherever the damn hell I please.No one has paid my way,and I aint payin anyone elses.Anyone who wants to come here and carries their own weight,I welcome them in completely.
      Anyone born here just leaching off the rest of us(and that includes the 1% who dont do anything usefull and yet own everything(especially the 1%))can get the hell out

      November 24, 2011 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Pete

      Guest, you are wrong on every count.
      1. You cannot breathe the air anywhere you want, not even in this country.
      2. There is a long waiting list of people who are trying to get in this country legally, but you would let in illegals immediately simply beacause they would "carry their own weight".
      3. The 1% don't own everything, most of them have worked hard for what they have and are simply sitting back and enjoying it.
      4. The 1% don't leach off you, in fact they help support you by paying much higher taxes than everyone else.

      November 24, 2011 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Jack

      Plus they don't know what causes babies and have one every year. Birth Control. What is that? Why should they worry? We pay for everything for them. Each baby born to illegals here becomes that little citizen and qualifies for all the freebees. Then they have a house and food to send for all the family to come here illegally.

      November 24, 2011 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
    • JOSE0311USMC


      November 24, 2011 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Ildrig

      Everywhere on earth that I know of, anyone that needs emergency medical attention will receive it, even if they are uninsured Americans travelling, which is pretty common (millions of American citizens are uninsured even in the US). That is basic humane behavior. Now, illegals do not get any benefits, since they don't have a valid SS#. All those people that think that illegals get free houses and stuff like that are not basing their beliefs on real facts, but on prejudice. On the contrary, every time an illegal buys a tamale, or a taco, or a blanket, they are paying taxes that they will never benefit from, because of their lack of a valid SS#. They are helping finance the benefits that American citizens will receive for disabled, unemployment, retirement, etc. An by the way, this German guy was not illegal. This law is having people arrested that are even US citizens not carrying a passport, in their own country!

      November 24, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • huh?

      "That dog don't hunt"?? leave it to the South to find a way to ruin a perfectly good saying that once made sense. Sort of like our reputation. Until you get everyday sayings right like (Remind me of our last president) can't be taken very seriously in my opinion.

      November 25, 2011 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  9. Enrique

    Meanwhile Romney opposes Newt's humane immigration policy proposal.

    November 24, 2011 at 8:29 am | Report abuse |
  10. Me

    "Time to move to a more welcoming sate" What the hell is this trash. There is nothing wrong with wanting LEGAL residents!!!
    All of you that oppose anything like this must be ILLEGAL.

    November 24, 2011 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |
    • JOSE0311USMC


      November 24, 2011 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Ildrig

      The federal government is opposing this immigration law, so, by your own reasoning, they all must be illegal. Great thought process! By the way, I oppose this immigration law, I am not the federal government, and I am legal. Are you? And if so, how did you become American? There is another misconception about those that, like me, oppose this Ala. immigration law: opposing this Ala. law is not a synonym of opposing any immigration law. I do not believe that illegal immigration should be openly allowed, but this Ala. law is plain racist, xenophobic and bad for our economy.

      November 24, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • JTM

      Sorry to disagree, but I am one hundred percent American, and am embarrassed by your statement and those like it. When a fantastic career opportunity brought me from the west coast to AL, my friends and family questioned my sanity. Now I know why. AL will always be the laughingstock of the nation, and the world.

      November 25, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jackin

    Hey go back to Germany and tell us that you would welcome all the Mexicans that can get there. NOT! And all their familiesi plus pay for their kids to go to your schools give them food stamps, free housing and medical. Hurrah for Alabama. That state has it all together. Why hire illegals to work when there are so many Americans needing a job? Can anyone answer that one for me?

    November 24, 2011 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
    • 1olddude

      The Germans are having problems with the influx of Turks they let in back in the 60's and 70's to do the "grunt" work in their Mercedes and BMW factories ( like janitorial, etc.) and they had a bunch of kids. Now these people are causing huge social service costs and problems there, because they learned how to game the system. So much for "legal" immigration.

      November 24, 2011 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  12. Jack

    This is the only nation on the big ball in the sky that welcomes anyone who comes here without an invitation.. Other nations have a very strict punishment for breaking their laws. What is wrong with the USA? I don't get it. You are more than welcome if you come here legally. Meaning you wait for your invitation. It is so unfair to those lawful entries to allow illegals to remain here and pay for their children's birth plus medical food housing. What is wrong with this nation?

    November 24, 2011 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
    • JOSE0311USMC


      November 24, 2011 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      Right – the US is the only country in the world that does it. And look what it got us. we've paid trillions of dollars in taxes to support illegals while they spit in our face. Reagan let in millions because they had to have their families with them, families hat included every rag tag relative they had and some they lied about being relatives, and they brought in their families too. Now even our government has turned against us, we hear there must be a Dream Act paid for by US taxpayers so these illegals can go to any college or university tuition paid. What illegal aliens in this country really means is work cheap and still draw welfare cash assistance, housing subsidy utilities paid, foodstamps, full medical and prescriptions paid, and sack every resource around because most of them breed like rabbits and blame it on their religion. The catholic church in my neighborhood just last Saturday evening at Mass said the congregation had not met the mandate by the archdiocese to raise $80,000. 00 dollars for the illegals the church provides sanctuary to and helps bring in illegal's families to boot. Tell me, how much of this kind of support can working America and pensioners benefit when its time for them to draw unemployment, Social Security and Medocare when the time comes. I say we've had our answer, the Republicans demand that unemployment end, Social Security be cut, want Medicare killed, and demand that Congress makes the Bush tax cuts permanent for the top 2% – and we have to pay for that too – and by the way, get rid of Obama. There is no end to the insanity in DC; these people are supposed to be working for us. There is no way I'm going to vote for puppest who are cutting my throat and the throats of my family, firends, neighbors and working Americans – or who are run by a loobyist named Norquist who is not even in Congress – or attack dogs for Wall Street. That only leaves Obama so I will vote a straight ticket. I sick and tired of this.

      November 24, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ildrig

      Oh my goodness! What are you talking about? You know nothing about the immigration laws in the US, obviously. If the US was, as you say, "the only nation on the big ball in the sky that welcomes anyone who comes here without an invitation", there would not be any illegals, since everybody would be legal... By the way, if that false statement about getting free housing, benefits and stuf were true, I would have become illegal myself a long time ago or have a child in some other country and bring it illegally to the US so that they would get a free house here. Where do people get these weird ideas?

      November 24, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Dott

    No president since Regan has shown the "guts" to do something about our illegals. Even since 9/11 nothing has changed. The border is still Open to who ever can get here. We don't know who they are or what they have in mind for America. The muslins hate us and yet how many do you see here? Too many for my comfort. I will vote for the man/woman who promises to send these people packing with all their children regardless where they were born. They should be the same nationality as the parents. Not only Mexicans. ALL of the people here illegally should go.

    November 24, 2011 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Pete

      Yeah- except Reagan's lockdown included AMNESTY for illegals that entered the country before 1982....

      November 24, 2011 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Geoerge

      Did you origininal ancestors came legally to the US? I' d agree with you only if you were a native american,otherwise shut up!

      November 26, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Bill

    Yeah, god forbid you carry ID like American citizens are required to and asked for when pulled over. Would German police let me go if I didn't have their required ID?

    November 24, 2011 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
    • JOSE0311USMC


      November 24, 2011 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Ildrig

      The German guy had a German ID, but he was not carrying his driver’s license or his passport. As some other people have mentioned before, when you travel abroad, it is much safer to leave your passport in the hotel to avoid losing it or getting it stolen, as I myself do when I travel. Before this law, because this guy was not carrying a driver’s license, he would have received a ticket, which could have been cancelled if he went to court to show that he indeed had a valid license. Now you go to prison. It takes resources from the state to do this extra paperwork, plus food, electricity, water and lodging for the people imprisoned. Plus the feeling that if at any point you forget your ID, you might end up in prison. I myself have forgotten my ID sometimes, not very often, but it has happened to me at least once a year. I guess I deserve going to prison then. When we, law abiding citizens of the US, forget our wallets while being in Alabama, we should all immediately go to the police and turn ourselves in.

      November 24, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Pete

    Feliz Thanksgiving!

    November 24, 2011 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Ildrig

      You too!

      November 24, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
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