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. Roger Ogilivy Thornhill

    Hey Alabama. That Mercedes exec is a job creator. You're supposed to let him do as he pleases. DUH!

    November 23, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Heh

    This is why immigration is a federal only power.
    States can’t just run rampant creating foreign policy incidents and damaging foreign relations.
    Which is also why foreign policy is a federal only power.
    Stupid hillbillies.

    November 23, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dott

      Heh you are the stupid hillbilly. Only an ignorant fool would feel like we should have the open door policy. Remember 9/11. If the Feds won't enforce the law then the states must do so. Thank you Alabama for standing up for the laws of the land.

      November 24, 2011 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
  3. Doc4Subs

    The sad part about the Republican party in the south that it now controlled by the evangelical's and fundamentalist Christians, who bailed on the Democratic Party when it embraced a woman's right to chose! While it has been effective of purging the party of the extreme right wing, it has been devastating for the Republicans to absorb so many members nationally that vote in lock step to the voices they hear in their heads from not taking their medication and interpret it as God talking to them.
    If you look at the party affiliation of the people involved in the violence against blacks and membership in the KKK in the south from the Civil War until the 1960's you would find that the vast majority were registered Democrats, the Colfax Massacre, Chousatta, LA and Jim Crow all part of the legacy of the Democrats.
    To Teresa DeLeon if you really want to get rid of not only the stigma but the actual behavior look back to the Civil Rights movement, organize organize and organize some more. Especially organize and educate voters you can affect the system not only in state but the entire nation! Nothing defeats racism(from any ethnic group) but education, positive exposure and time because some are so inculcated in ignorance that you just have to wait from them to pass

    November 23, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • scot

      Amen to that brother !

      November 23, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • WHOOSH

      Well said Doc4...I submit that in fifteen years or so we will be able to have positive conversations about hate and the hate that hate produced. The baby boomers, the majority of the Teabaggers and extremist, hopefully, will be hating somewhere south of life.

      November 23, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  4. David

    I'm concerned that my fellow Americans are becoming a very uneducated group of people or maybe it's just the editorial board at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Has anyone on the editorial board at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch been pulled over in a foreign country without proper identification? For those of you on the editorial board of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch this identification is also commonly referred to as a passport.

    November 23, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Nick

    Color has nothing to do with it. We want legal citizens in our state. We do not want people who cannot be properly identified roaming our streets. It's not a matter of race, it's a matter of safety. The current federal government is wasting who knows how much taxpayer money to try to look good in the eyes of the world and not taking concern for the country's well being.

    I for one would like to be able to withdraw all of my taxes from being used to fight Immigration laws. We need them. Someone needs to step up and do what's right for the country, not what's right for popularity.

    Also, "Global corporations must be asking themselves whether their international employees — those with legal work permits — are welcome in Alabama"

    If they have LEGAL work permits, they are more than welcome here in Alabama. They can stay as long as they are properly permitted to. Just don't violate laws or ordinances without your identification and there's nothing at all to be worried about.

    November 23, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • WHOOSH

      Nick, why is it that you people alway ends up on the wrong side of history. I can see through your sheet. you aren't fooling anybody but yourself. Alabama is a very, very, very poor, I have never so many poor whites in my life in one place who vote against their best interest. And they are lazy as hell, smoking meth and flying their Confounderate flag.

      November 23, 2011 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. dejah

    You folks apparently didn't read the story very well. But then again, what do you expect from a state with the second-lowest literacy rate in the country. Perhaps it IS time for 'Bama to lose some bidness to states where hate isn't a state law.

    November 23, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Punkass

      Are you saying hate is a state law in Alabama? Clearly you didnt read the article. The driver was a white male, not hispanic so it turns out that the law is not biased and applies to everyone. Once the man could prove he was here legally, he was released without a problem. Maybe you should think before you post.

      November 23, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Moorlan

    Hmm, doesn't the stopping and arrest of a non-hispanic person under this law kinda dis the racial-profiling aspect of the "anti" crowd arguement against this law? I mean it shows that they are going strictly by legal status not race.

    November 23, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Punkass

      Not to mention it was easy for the exec to eventually get his papers and be released sooooo it looks like the law works. More jobs for legal citizens, law is applied to everyone equally and as long as you are here legally the law isnt a problem.

      November 23, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Punkass

    Whats funny about foreign companies concerned about the immigration policy is that most countries have FAR more strict immigration laws in place. Alabama's new law doesnt even hold a candle to Mexicos anti-immigration laws let alone China's. This CNN blitz against Alabama is disgusting. Always show the law in a negative light. I have yet to see one article for the other side of the argument on here....very sad how biased CNN can be yet Fox news is the most unbalanced? Totaly craziness

    November 23, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. ermcnn

    Gemütlichkeit is the correct spelling, and it should be capitalized

    November 23, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Truman Angel

    When Jesus returns I sure hope he has the proper papers.

    November 23, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Punkass

      Ummmm, what?

      November 23, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • juan

      If and/or wheh Jesus returns, I doubt that my state of Alabama is going to be on his itinerary

      November 23, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Heh

    This is why immigration is a federal only power.
    States can’t just run rampant creating foreign policy incidents and damaging foreign relations.
    Which is also why foreign policy is a federal only power.
    Stupid hillbillies.

    November 23, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Punkass

      Ya know, except when the Fed does nothing, then claims it doesnt have enough resources to correct the problem. Which is funny because they sure do seem to have enough resources to file la suit after lawsuit, taking each state to court one at a time over this. So in summation, the Fed wont do it, and will sue any state that attempts it themselves...seems like a lose lose to me.

      November 23, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Voice of Reason

    What's the problem? The man didn't have his proper identification as required. After proof was provided charges were dropped. Fair is fair.

    November 23, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jimi

    I heared this state was full of niqqers

    November 23, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. bruce Heinemann

    "they were concerned the legislation could paint the state as bigoted and intolerant" oh, really, ya think? LOL! No better way to deal with these racist neanderthals in AL. is simply for big businesses to ust pack up and leave... let the white trash pick their own food!

    November 23, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Kevin

    Way to go, Alabama. True to form, yet again. Nothing like shooting yourself in the foot just to prove a point. And not a very good point.

    November 23, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Punkass

      Doesnt seem to have shot themselves in the foot. Just because the article mentions that a foreign company is sort of having second thoughts about possibly opening here isnt anything. Thats just liberal fuel for the fire so ppl like you will make these kinds of comments without thinking. The residents say there are more jobs now, the law affects everyon equally and it turns out that as long as you are legal its no big deal. Notice how the writer didnt actually get a statement from the exec??? Funny how that works out because he would probably say the situation was no big deal. he should know, Germany isnt eactly crazy about immigration themselves and have very strict laws.

      November 23, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
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