Photo by Patrik Stollarz/AFP/Getty Images.
Good thing Alabama passed the nation’s toughest immigration law: No longer can Mercedes-Benz executives drive around the state with impunity.
A German manager for the automaker, which opened a factory in the Alabama in 1993, was hauled into jail last week after an officer pulled him over because his rental car didn’t have tags. He had his German identification card with him, but not his passport. The new law, passed in June, requires police to arrest anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally if the suspect can’t produce identification.
He was released after one of his business associates retrieved his passport from his hotel, Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steven Anderson told The Associated Press.
Upon hearing of the incident, Alabama governor Robert Bentley called the state’s homeland security director to find out what had happened, the Washington Post reports. But there was no mistake; the arrest was exactly what was supposed to happen under the law that Bentley signed earlier this year. And, presumably, it’s what now happens on a routine basis to other, less-prominent people around the state, whether in the country legally or not.
“If it were not for the immigration law, a person without a license in their possession wouldn’t be arrested like this,” the homeland security director confirmed to the Post.
The law’s supporters have insisted it’s not about xenophobia; it’s about upholding the law and protecting citizens’ jobs from an influx of illegal immigrants. But some are now concerned that rival states could use it to lure businesses by painting Alabama as hostile to foreigners.
Farmers have also objected to the law, saying they’ve lost parts of their harvest because it scared away migrant workers. Few Americans have been willing to take the jobs they left, the AP reported last month.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Justice Department is challenging the law, CNN reports. “The Constitution leaves no room for such a state immigration-enforcement scheme,” it wrote in a brief filed in a federal Court of Appeals on Monday. Alabama’s attorney general has pledged to “vigorously defend the law.” And Republican senators such as David Vitter of Louisiana and Jim DeMint of South Carolina are working to block funding for the federal lawsuit.