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. larry

    Everyone who is so against this action, ask yourself a few questions
    1) When you travel to a foreign country, don't you carry your passport with you?
    2) If you don't, you know that you are risking EXACTLY what happened in this story, right?
    3) Remember 9/11? One of the pilots was pulled over, verified he was in the country illegally, the STATE police couldn't do anything to detain him. He then went on to fly one of the plans into the WTC.
    4) When you fly, you are subjecting yourself to nude photography.

    What else has to happen in this country before we take immigration laws seriously.

    By the way, our LAWS require that we carry our id or we can be detained up to 48 hours, without having charges filed against us.

    If you hate on that, you are hating on the truth. Keep working on you BA.

    November 23, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ed

    Its a hard law but the right thing to do and there will be more mistakes. Just think you can send you teenage to get a job as a dishwasher or apt. cleaner to pay for the car they want or what ever and there will not be an illegale taking his or her job.. Thats how I learn to work for what I wanted now all the illegales have the low paying jobs....

    November 23, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Cedar Rapids

    There is a certain irony in a German being pulled over and asked to produce their papers.

    November 23, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Imbecile

      Especially when you consider it happened in America.

      November 23, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • d

      I never thought of that. Thats just damn funny when you think about it

      November 23, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Skeptic

      Good one !!!!!

      November 23, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mike Mazzla

    I dont think any one of us was thinking that Alabama was a tolerant place before this happened anyway. Its Redneck central.

    November 23, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      You got that right. It is hillbilly hell. Speaking as someone who lives there (no, I am not a native, thank God).

      November 23, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      What I find kind of 'funny' is that the newspaper told Mercedes it had two choices, one being something like "force your executives to carry identification papers at all times..... " I think the paper meant this a kind of big shock to Mercedes. The big problem is this is not shocking at all. In Germany and much of the world they already ARE required to carry ID papers. In most countries that require this you can be detained for not having them in your possession.

      November 23, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • David0

      It is interesting how many people, like Mark, find Alabama good enough to live and work in, but somehow don't realize that they are now part of the people of Alabama. Newsflash, Mark, many people live in states they moved to as adults. They are now from that state. So you are an Alabamian. How does it feel to be unfairly discriminated against?

      November 23, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Imbecile

    So, we're reduced to begging foreign companies to open factories in our states?

    November 23, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • palintwit

      It's been going on for 30 years or more. Where have you been ?

      November 23, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Imbecile

      palintwit, I've been in a soma daze.

      November 23, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. tony

    why are you hating? because germans make better cars than us?

    November 23, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • robert

      germans do make better cars

      I will never drive a piece of crap american car ever again

      November 23, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Phoenix427

      Maybe not, but they probably speak (or write) better English than WE (do)

      November 23, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dietrich

      Germans make better cars, whats your point? Kepp drinking the Obamaland CoolAid.

      November 23, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Yum! Taste delicious! Hey Diegrich, how does Hannity & Rush's come taste? Get Hannity d!ick out ur mouth and Rush's c0ck out ur @ss!

      November 23, 2011 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Not sure what you mean by better. If you mean, for example, a seat belt retractor that costs $988, plus $390 labor to install, then YES. Better.

      November 23, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Whizerd

      As a Wrecker Operator, I can assure you that this is not true. Every single day that has went by in the past 3 years or so(except on really bad snow days or something), there are at the very least, three imports(by nameplate), to every American(by nameplate) car. You can almost guarantee that four or more(on a busy day) is a Mercedes. Mainly the newer ones, alot of them right off the lot three hours before. The Mercedes/Jaguar/Land Rover dealership almost pays the drivers' salaries at the company I work for.
      However...I WILL state this....I have not once towed a VW Beetle(newer or older) that wasn't involved in an accident that made it non-operable. Never picked one up because it needed to go to the 'shop' to get something fixed. I did give 1 VW Beetle a jumpstart in a mall parking lot..because the woman went to the movies and shopping and left all the inside lights on for what she said was four hours or so.
      In this area, and surrounding regions, The top five of the most towed for problems to least, my opinion is Toyota, Kia, Ford, Chevy, Mercedes. The only reason that Mercedes is last is because of pure numbers. If it were percentage of whats on the road, Mercedes would be on top, hands down. Not everyone has a Mercedes on the road.
      Relative to the article...
      If you are in this country, you need to have proper identification to discern who you are. If you cannot produce that, and you speak in an obvious foreign language, you absolutely need to be detained non-threatening(if thats the personna given) until things are straightened-out and everything checks-out and you leave, or it gets found that you are not here legally, and you STAY. Simple.
      I feel that THIS incident is ridiculous however. Driving a RENTAL Mercedes Benz? Problem with the tag huh? I'm glad they went into detail on just WHAT kind of problem there was with the tag for it to be pulled-over. Sounds a little off to me. I mean, there aren't alot of places that rent or lease Mercedes'.
      Something is not right in this story. Typical for see en en.
      ~Blessed Be to all~

      November 23, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • JOSE0311USMC


      November 24, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Amazed

      Oh yes, German cars are soooooooo known for their reliability.............

      November 24, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Nick

    By the way, all the stupid comments aren't helping things out. Please try not being a representative of the Alabama stereotype.

    November 23, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • d

      Nick, I bet your a Siegleman supporter.

      November 23, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. John

    The irony is ripe. Insensitivity and cultural ignorance...says the editorial misspelling gemütlichkeit. Well done! It is German law that everyone carry identification at all times, and addresses must be updated with the state immediately when a person moves. Any foreign traveler without proper identification would rightfully be detained. Why don't you all take a chill pill

    November 23, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Dachau

    After hearing about this as a German living here I have sent a German letter to the German Benz headquarters asking them to move to Yankee land and out of the pre-nazi south.

    November 23, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • CosmicC

      I find your "name" highly offensive.

      November 23, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Roll Tide

    I am from Alabama and I support the new law. Those states that welcome ilgeals, you just have at it and see just how much strain it causes to the state. I am a hard working mother of 2 and pay my way with a legal paycheck. Insurance, taxes and ss taken out and if my children got sick they went to the doctor not the er. Never once got on welfare and dead beat dad only helped when he wanted to. I know that there is crime everywhere, but the area that Iive in (Sandmountain) has just gotten terrible with ileagles and the drugs that have been brought in. So once again you states that want them you can have them all. I STAND BY THIS NEW LAW.

    November 23, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Imbecile

      What's an ilgeal?

      November 23, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • atbigfoot91

      Watch out or the Germans will repossess your double wide.

      November 23, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      "What's an ilgeal?"

      a geal that is feeling poorly?

      November 23, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • HurrDurr

      Maybe some German English teachers could be brought over?

      November 23, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • HurrDurr

      Oh yeah . . BTW – Your neighbors are the ones consuming those drugs ... So blame those banjo-heads..

      November 23, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan Halen

      ROFLMAO. You do your state so much justice!

      November 23, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • slim

      It sounds like some sort of beagle. All those darn beagles are taken' our jobs! Get em!

      November 23, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • d

      I love you. I don't see what all the bleeding hearts are complaining about. It's a federal law that if you are a non citizen you must carry ID with you. So all Alabama is doing is enforcing the US law on immigrant papers. This German not only didn't have his papers, (which Americans are required to have in Germany btw), he also did not have his drivers license. So he deserved a trip to jail. So yea, Mercedes, go up north and enjoy the unions. And for you Mizzou peeps, enjoy you incoming azzwhooping in the SEC.

      November 23, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dietrich

      I live in California and just see what the illegals done here. Sick of the Obamaland CooAid drinkers with noballs who want to give free education, free hethcare and free money to the illegals. You try getting free everything in any other country and they'll hang you by the nuts.

      November 23, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Globalization,

      @Dietrich That is actually not true. France has the number one healthcare system in the world and any American can move there, get an address, (rent an apartment) and would be eligible for healthcare the next day....its the right wing media that has been pumping you up on the Koolaid.

      November 23, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Harpman

    Oh, so rich execs are exempt from having proper drivers license or identification papers. I'm so sorry.

    November 23, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Imbecile

      The law only applies to people who don't have the resources to get the charges dropped.

      November 23, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • David0

      No, all the illegals are held until they produce ID or ICE says to release them, or 48 hours is up.

      November 23, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dietrich

      The says in every state. you shall produce valid ID/driver license when asked to do so by a police officer. The same in germany. Apperently Hans was too important to carry his ID. Schwantze noodle.

      November 23, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  12. palintwit

    Those Germans in Alabama would be more at home if they strung barb wire and built guard towers around the Mercedes factory.

    November 23, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • 1st Gen and proud american

      My mother's family came from Lithuania, so people don't see me as being an "immigrant." I am shocked at the racism against Germans. They kicked the Nazis out years ago, and have an excellent society. They brought jobs and prosperity to Alabama at present, and in the past with their technology in Hunstville space programs. This has brought Alabama more economic prosperity than it otherwise would have had. Germans deserve out thanks–not our racist comments.

      November 23, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  13. thinkingallowed

    Most of you who support this have the nerve to call Obama, "Hitler". Though I do Think you believe Obama is Socialist, however, Nazis where not defined as Socialist, never mind nothing you do makes sense. Anyway, Nazis murdered millions, and identified most of them by checking their "papers" at various checkpoints and stops. You have no critical thinking skills, and everything you pretend to support goes against just about all that you actually do. The example are endless. I am sure that most Republican leaders find your actions enigmatic. MS-13? You guys fight and argue over the color Red. What is the difference? You are more of a problem than the gang, with wider implications. If something is proposed by someone with an elephant, or a red banner behind them you back it up. You do not care about content, if its red, you fight for it; is this not a gang?

    November 23, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mastodonrocks

      MS13? Red? Do you know what your talking about? MS13's color is not red, red belongs to Bloods.

      November 23, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Greg R

    The guy broke the law. Plain and simple. If I have to have proper ID to drive they why should he be any different just because he is an Exec with MB? I'm sure he knew better and most likely will carry his papers with him the next time he drives.
    Lets load the bus with the illegals and all pitch in for a Greyhound ticket to send them to St. Louis.

    November 23, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Imbecile

      "I'm sure he knew better and most likely will carry his papers with him the next time he drives."

      It just sounds so American and exemplary of freedom when you put it that way.

      November 23, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dachau

      And put a yellow star on the jacket as well when they get put in the bus? Sounds like 1930s somehwere else. Go Alabama.

      November 23, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dietrich

      Yeah, we have about 3 million in Californa as well. Greyhound would love the business to St Luis. the cholos could get work at one of your crappy beerfactories, get drunk all day and get free healthcare and pop out more illegal babies for the Show Me State.

      November 23, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  15. lunchbreaker

    The issue here is the impact the law has on everyone. Previously the law would have had the officer write a ticket instead of arresting him. Now, no matter what your race, if you head out to work and you left your wallet at home, get pulled over, you're going to be arrested. I just think the law is unreasonable, for all races.

    November 23, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      There are two things you can do to avoid this situation:
      1) Don't leave your wallet at home.
      2) Don't do anything that would get you pulled over.

      November 23, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • lunchbreaker

      Leaving your wallet at home is a simple mistake. It doesn't seem the punishment fits the crime.

      November 23, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
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