• Nov 22nd 2011 at 2:00PM
  • 491
A Mercedes-Benz executive was recently pulled over and ... A Mercedes-Benz executive was recently pulled over and arrested in Alabama for not having proper identification with him (khawkins04, Flickr).
Alabama's desire to keep out illegal immigrants may be running counter to its desire to attract international automakers.

Under the state's new immigration policy, which requires anyone stopped by police to show proper identification, a German executive with Mercedes Benz was arrested this weekend.

It played out like a scene sounds like it could come from a World War II Gestapo movie: 46-year-old Detlev Hager was driving down the road in a rental car, when a police officer noticed something amiss with the car – initial reports say it was missing registration tags, but Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steve Anderson insists the car was missing license plates. The officer pulled Hager over, and asked for his papers.

All Hager could produce was his German identification. His passport, which shows he was legally in the country on a visa, was back at his hotel room.

Hager was arrested and charged under the immigration law for not having the proper paperwork. He was released on his own recognizance after a colleague went back to his hotel room and retrieved his paperwork. He has a court date set in the next few weeks to determine his ultimate punishment.

The arrest has caught national attention to Alabama's law, which could be interpreted to require paperwork to prove immigration status for things like getting flu shots.

"I'm not surprised at the amount of attention this has drawn," Anderson said. "I expected it would take something like this to get attention."

Since the law was enacted in October, 66 people have been arrested in Tuscaloosa alone, Anderson said. He's unsure if any of those arrested were actually illegal immigrants: 33 were black males, 9 black females, 16 were Hispanic males, 1 Hispanic female, 3 were white males and 4 were white females.

Slade Blackwell, an Alabama state senator, told the New York Times that the law needs to be modified.

"The longer the bill has been out, the more unintended consequences we have found," he told the paper. "All of us realize we need to change it."

Mercedes' first full year of production in Alabama was in 1998, when it produced 68,800 vehicles. It was the first automaker to take a gamble on producing cars in the southern state, which had no history of auto production but threw tons of money at Mercedes to set up shop there.

In 1993, the state gave Mercedes tax incentives worth $253 million, or about $169,000 per job, to open that factory, according to the Alabama Automotive Manufacturers Association.

Now Alabama has two more auto assembly plants, also run by foreign automakers Honda and Hyundai. Toyota and International Diesel produce engines in the state. There are more than 90 automotive suppliers in Alabama that serve either Hyundai, Honda or Mercedes.

Which means Alabama gets its fair share of foreign business travelers.

Competition for foreign autos investment is intense – jobs at auto plants are a boon for any state and local government that can convince an automaker to build a plant in their region.

The auto industry accounts for 6.8% of Alabama's labor force, according to a report by the Center for Automotive Research. For comparison, the industry accounts for 4.4% of the nation's workforce. In Michigan, it's 21.8% of the workforce.

States often throw huge tax incentives at auto companies to get these jobs. States like them because they pay high wages to people who often don't have college degrees, the automakers take very good care of their employees and the plants attract scads of suppliers which also pay solid wages. People who work at the plants spend money at local restaurants, shops and even car dealerships.

The arrest "highlights the disastrous consequences of profiling, as well as the potential threat to foreign investment in the state that enacts and enforces laws that lead to arrests of anyone who doesn't speak, act or look in a 'non-suspicious manner,'" Rep. Charles A. Gonzalez, a Texas Democrat who chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, told FoxNews.com.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      Cant say he was treated unfairly, this article just makes alabama' look worse than it already does
      • 3 Years Ago
      Looks like the law in Alabama is working well. Every state should follow suit. No papers = deportation.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Yes I would, I had the pleasure of visiting the Philippines in 2009 to 2010, I had to go register every 2 months & anyone over here should have their papers in order too, I had to pay too, I don't care what state they are in they should have their paper work in order & if you don't have papers you should be deported at once, I don't think they should be living on our SS & drawing as much as they do, I am disable & I can't even draw on my SS because I haven't paid in enough & you think I feel sorry for them???? Hope every one has a Happy Thanksgiving & a Merry Christmas???
      • 3 Years Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      I just got a ticket for "Failure to display DL on demand" when I left my wallet at home, in a city (Texas) I have resided in for 40 years ! Even though I have my DL # memorized. This type of citation won't go away by presenting my license at court time - $188.00 fine ! And it is well known Illegals get to go on their merry way - cops won't bother writing the ticket because they know the info. they receive is going to be fake. No point in issuing a warrant. And you CAN"T arrest an illegal alien for not showing ID. Helluva deal, eh ?
      • 3 Years Ago
      Wow....if he had been speaking Spanish and in a van with 20 ladders on the roof, no brake lights or turn signals and the occupants were tossing Taco Bell trash out of the van the cop would have known to let them go, that they are just trying to have a better life. Besides, cops go for the easy targets..... clean white guy, alone in a car rather than a windowless van swerving all over the highway (picture Cheeh and Chong movie).
      • 3 Years Ago
      "The arrest highlights the disastrous effects of profiling" --ARE YOU KIDDING? How is it profiling when blacks, hispanics, whites, males and females have been arrested? And now this German man -- wait, does the author of this article think the police could tell by looking at him that HE WAS GERMAN?!?! These articles get dumber and dumber. ANYWHERE you go, if you get stopped without ID, you are likely to go to jail until you can produce it. Big deal. No story here.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Talk to the cops like a dumb redneck, and they won't haul you in. If you're furrin', you're busted!
      • 3 Years Ago
      What a ludicrous disgrace is ALABAMA. What an embarrassment that we as a free nation allow these moronic, bigoted hypocrites to dwell on our shores under the aegis of our great nation. This fascist, racist, sexist, xenophobic pigpen has been home to hatred, ignorance and bigotry for hundreds of years. How we long for another Lyndon Johnson to send the 82nd Airborne Division back down there with bayonets fixed to remind these knuckle-dragging crackers that they lost their war against freedom and democracy over a hundred and forty years ago. They can consider themselves lucky that the cerebral and deliberate President Obama is not likely to castigate the Sorry State of Alabammy too much for their latest transgression against the U.S. Constitution. Only an administration this weak would tolerate these inbred cretins and their attempts to revive the southern oligarchy of the confederacy with all it's perversions and it's vile customs. How can we continue to allow these traitorous trailer trash to have their despicable way with our American freedoms? How can we as a nation abide the setting up of a de facto police state with their own despotic rules within American borders while they thump their bibles and peddle their Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms? These latter day Klansmen present a clear and present danger to all Americans who inadvertantly wander into the Alabaman sewer.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Nothing terrible about this it just shows the law is applied evenly. Go visit almost any country and don't have your passport with you and you will get the same or worse. How is this an unintended consequence of the immigration law? From now on he will be sure to follow the law.
      Why don't Mercedes pull out of racist Alabama and put their business elsewhere and see what happens. What a novel idea.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Alabama's newly enacted law need to be modified is that what the idiotic senator said? And he did think there wouldn't be any repercussion with their new state immigration law. That why it belongs at the Federal level because of screw up that police on this streets will make. The feds have a hard enough enforce it, what make these states think they can do a better job. Not only will mistakes like this run undocumented alien out town, this will run foreign businesses and investments out town. The man was driving a Mercedes Benz with no tags, had a German accent and the cop didn't know that they built Mercedes Benz in he state? There something wrong with this picture here or the cop is just plain stupid. I would be very surprised if this even goes to court.
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