published Friday, November 18th, 2011

Mercedes manager from Germany arrested on Alabama immigration charge

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — A German manager with Mercedes-Benz is free after being arrested for not having a driver’s license with him under Alabama’s new law targeting illegal immigrants, authorities said Friday, in an otherwise routine case that drew the attention of Gov. Robert Bentley.

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.

The length of his detainment and the status of his court case weren’t immediately known.

Mercedes-Benz, which is a division of Daimler AG, builds sport-utility vehicles at a large plant in Vance, about 20 miles east of Tuscaloosa. 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.

Bentley, a Republican who signed the illegal immigration law earlier this year, called the state’s homeland security director, Spencer Collier, after hearing of the arrest to get details about had happened, Collier said in an interview.

“Initially I didn’t have them, so I called Chief Anderson to find out what happened,” Collier said. “It sounds like the officer followed the statute correctly.”

Collier said he didn’t know how Bentley found out about the arrest, and Bentley press secretary Jennifer Ardis referred all questions to Collier.

Collier said he has made at least a dozen similar calls to law enforcement agencies that made arrests under the law to see how it is being handled, and he said his call to Anderson wasn’t prompted by the fact a Mercedes executive was arrested.

“It’s just to make sure they’re using best practices and following the law,” he said.

The law — parts of which were put on hold amid legal challenges — requires that police check citizenship status during traffic stops and take anyone who doesn’t have proper identification to a magistrate. Anderson said that’s what was done, but someone in the same situation wouldn’t have been arrested before the law took effect.

“If it were not for the immigration law, a person without a license in their possession wouldn’t be arrested like this,” he said. Previously, drivers who lacked licenses received a ticket and a court summons, the police chief said.

Mercedes-Benz spokeswoman Felyicia Jerald said the man is from Germany and was visiting Alabama on business. The company’s first U.S. assembly plant is located just east of Tuscaloosa.

“This was an unfortunate situation, but the incident was resolved when our colleague ... was able to provide his driver’s license and other documents to Tuscaloosa police,” Jerald said.

The law is considered by both opponents and supporters as the toughest in the U.S. against illegal immigrants. It’s being challenged in federal court by the Justice Department, about 30 civil rights organizations and some prominent church leaders. Judges have blocked some provisions, but sections still stand that allow police to check a person’s immigration status during traffic stops and make it a felony for illegal immigrants to conduct basic state business, like getting a driver’s license.

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328Kwebsite said...

As a veteran and the son of a German immigrant to the US, I continue to be disgusted by these repugnant, cowardly and unproductive laws targeting immigrants.

What an embarrassment.

November 18, 2011 at 7:40 p.m.
John_Proctor said...

TN still has the country's largest collection of idiots in its legislature but Alabama is closing fast followed closely by Texas and Kansas.

So far, their at least partially unconstitutional efforts to scare away immigrants have yielded a lot of unpicked crops costing farmers millions of dollars in losses and the arrest of an executive of one of the largest job producing plants in the state.

Alabama-Making its neighboring southern states look sane and attractive to potential employers.

November 18, 2011 at 8:01 p.m.
parkerfaroff said...

Wow, The fertile population of illegals do not speak English and they are the ones who do not understand that our milk is running dry. They and all of their children recieve all the government services that were implemented for American citizens. while the elderly who lived through the depression and worked hard to build the country into America are now working part time jobs trying to pay for their groceries. Living on medicare which has been cut so thin they can put a slice of cheese on it. In the mean time the illegals are pushing forward. Now medical facilities prefer bilienguels because they refuse to speak English. So what if Alabama arrested a big shot because he did not have proper identification. He is fine now and I am sure he desires to communicate with all by using his skills to speaks English and he will pay taxes. Still, Alabama is not decriminating, however they are enforcing the laws. Keep up the good work Alabama.

November 18, 2011 at 8:38 p.m.
shen said...

Another OOPS! moment. See hea', see hea'. Those immigrations laws were only suppose to target brown people from south of the border, and not pale skinned Europeans.

November 18, 2011 at 8:55 p.m.
dude_abides said...

"skills to speaks English"... "decriminating"... lemme see your card.

What a joke our neighbors from the southwest have played on themselves. This will be the second time they've made fools of themselves in the national media, the first being running off the migrant workers and leaving farmers in the lurch.

November 18, 2011 at 11:18 p.m.
lonerstoner said...

When traveling abraud keep on your person , I.D. Passport , and dont dont show your azz Snuffing out wetbacks more than helps this ecconimy

November 19, 2011 at 6:59 a.m.
bearhunter2 said...

thats ok Mercedes-Benz willtreat you in chattanooga. just close down and move a litte north we will treart you right. what a knuckle head move.

November 19, 2011 at 7:12 a.m.
BluesHarp said...

Keep right on electing Foghorn Leghorn demagogues, y'all. Oooeee! Fear-mongering dumb-clucks have always been employed by gilded fascists to do their bidding, just like they are doing in Greece at this very moment:

When you wake up, and our democracy is history, do NOT complain about conditions in the gulag.

November 19, 2011 at 9:57 a.m.
jesse said...

get stoped anywhere w/o your dr.lic. and you will go to jail OR get a ticket and ride a cab home!

if he had his lic.w/him,woulda been no prob!

November 19, 2011 at 10:01 a.m.
german1 said...

Embarrasing!!! He drove a rental car plus had a german ID with him and still got arrested. Looks like an illegal immigrant,lol. Living myself legally in this country I agree with tough immigration laws but unfortunately legal immigrants like myself get treated sometimes worse than illegal immigrants when it comes to permanent residency. Many illegal immigrants got rewarded with Green Cards and later Citizenship when legal immigrants applications for Green Cards got denied. POLITICIANS in this country have to understand which immigrants are beneficial for this country. Such incidents which was also published in German newspapers make investors thinking twice to bring jobs to this country.

November 19, 2011 at 10:51 a.m.
macropetala8 said...

jesse said... get stoped anywhere w/o your dr.lic. and you will go to jail OR get a ticket and ride a cab home! if he had his lic.w/him,woulda been no prob!

Apparently, your reading/comprehension is aksew. The article clearly states before the tough immigration laws, anyone stopped without a license would most certainly have been given a citation in lieu of being arrested on the spot. It was those now tougher immigration policies in place that has made all of us vulnerable and America closer to becoming a police state. Under these new immigration laws even fellow Americans who accidently leave home without their license are subject to being arrested rather than given a citation. doof-lous!

November 19, 2011 at 1:25 p.m.
terrybham said...

OOPS! This law wasn't designed to be used against moneyed white people. Anyone can make a mistake.

November 19, 2011 at 2:21 p.m.
Humphrey said...

When traveling abraud keep on your person , I.D. Passport , and dont dont show your azz Snuffing out wetbacks more than helps this ecconimy

Actually, I do not believe that you are supposed to carry your passport around on your person, you are supposed to leave it secured in your hotel safe. The passport is for crossing borders. And I also do not think you are supposed to call people "wetbacks."

November 19, 2011 at 2:37 p.m.
jesse said...

hey macropetals, if a cop stops you and you DO NOT have a dr.lic. he WILL NOT let you drive off!! he MAY give you a ticket BUT if you don't go to jail you WILL leave in a cab or hoof it!!

if the cop let you drive off w/o proof of a dr.lic. then HE gets into deep kim-chee if you go down the block and wreck! ain't got nuttin to do w/the new law.periot!

November 19, 2011 at 3:40 p.m.
Ralph said...

They did exactly the right thing. Anyone traveling in a foreign country or your own, knows to carry ID and if you’re driving you better have a license. As an Auto Company Executive I’m sure he has traveled before and should have known better. Embarrassing yes, but with the proper ID and license, a good ending

November 20, 2011 at 12:36 a.m.
TheTank said...

Let me get this right: He was driving a rental, probably had on a suite, works for Mercedes and spoke in a foreign accent? He probably also had a German Id or other documentation (hotel reservations or work documents) which could have given a clue.

Yep, sounds like your typical illegal immigrant. Damn for'ners cummin 'ere and creatin jobs.

Yep, that is hospitality for you. Who dares to wager what will happen the next time location planning for Mercedes sites come up?

btw: If he is German, he would have had his ID card, which has not only the needed information, but also in THREE languages (in Germany it is German, English and French). It is mandatory to carry it in Germany and he probably would carry it out of habit. It has a picture and the latest versions even biometrical data.

As someone already mentioned, it is advised NOT to carry around ones Passport & Visa information due to theft. Tourists being prime targets.

That aside, I had the same problems while in the US. I was always asked for two forms of ID and when I showed both ID card and drivers license, the person checking it was completely stomped. Dude, it actually has ENGLISH information!!!

I actually stared carrying three forms of ID (German id, drivers license and US passport) and that was sometimes still not enough.

November 21, 2011 at 11:27 a.m.
larwilb60 said...

The law is the law! Period! this cop did his job! just because this guy was big wig German rep doesnt make him any less culpable. I am sure all reps from this company were made aware of the new law. And for you people saying come North to Tenn, the ILLEGALS have heard you loud and clear because they are leaving Georgia and Alabama in droves! These people are CRIMINALS! PERIOD!

November 30, 2011 at 11:03 a.m.
ckit1477 said...

Mercedes-Benz spokeswoman Felyicia Jerald said the man is from Germany and was visiting Alabama on business. The company’s first U.S. assembly plant is located just east of Tuscaloosa. I bet It's very hard for the mercedes benz parts to deal with this problem.

April 2, 2012 at 11:52 p.m.
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