German Mercedes-Benz Exec Arrested Under Alabama’s HB 56

Looks like Alabama's tough new immigration law doesn't just hurt poor, Latino immigrants.

By Jorge Rivas Nov 21, 2011

A German manager with Mercedes-Benz was arrested in Alabama for violating the state’s tough new immigration law. The man, who was in town on business, was stopped in his rented car for a traffic violation, but was only able to produce a German photo ID. That’s no longer enough in Alabama, which is home to the nation’s toughest immigration enforcement law, HB 56. Before the law went into effect earlier this year, the man would’ve probably been given a citation and a court summons. Instead, he was hauled off to jail.

The Associated Press has the full story:

Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steven Anderson told The Associated Press an officer stopped a rental vehicle for not having a tag Wednesday night and asked the driver for his license. The man only had a German identification card, so he was arrested and taken to police headquarters, Anderson said.

The 46-year-old executive was charged with violating the immigration law for not having proper identification, but he was released after an associate retrieved his passport, visa and German driver’s license from the hotel where he was staying, Anderson said.

"If it were not for the immigration law, a person without a license in their possession wouldn’t be arrested like this," the police chief went on to say.

A large number of Latinos have left the state of Alabama in record numbers because they fear being detained and deported. HB 56, the country’s toughest immigration enforcement law, includes provisions that allow state and local police to ask about citizenship status during traffic stops.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, the Republican who signed the HB 56 into law earlier this year, called local police officials when he heard the Mercedes Benz executive was arrested.

Bentley called the state’s homeland security director, Spencer Collier, after hearing of the arrest to get details about what had happened and to make sure the officer "followed the statute correctly."

Mercedes-Benz builds sport-utility vehicles at a large plant in Vance, Alabama — about 20 miles east of Tuscaloosa where the German executive was arrested. The automaker’s decision to open a factory in Alabama in 1993 was considered a major coup for the state’s economic development efforts and launched a trend of other foreign automakers and suppliers who opened major factories in the state, including Honda, Toyota and Hyundai, according to the Associated Press.