On Nov. 16, a European businessman paying a visit to his company's manufacturing plant near Tuscaloosa, Alabama, was pulled over for driving a rental car without a tag.
The police officer asked the man for his license, but the only paperwork he had with him was a German I.D. card. Anywhere else in the nation, the cop might have issued the man a citation. Not in Alabama, where a strict new law requires police to look into the immigration status of people detained for routine traffic violations. Because the man couldn't prove he had the right to be in the U.S., he was arrested and hauled off to the police station.
The man turned out to be an executive at Mercedes-Benz, as opposed to someone who busses dishes at a diner, or picks oranges at a grove. And as such, given that he's white and not brown, Alabama Republicans have egg on their faces.
"I was really embarrassed and overwhelmed," says state Senator Gerald Dial. "Mercedes has done more to change the image of Alabama than just about anything else. We don't want to upset those people."
And as such...
In the past week, at least six Alabama Republicans have come forward to say the legislature should rewrite portions of HB56, as the immigration statute is known.
Nevermind that foreign firms are reconsidering locating in the state, or that the law will increase food prices while tens of millions of dollars of crops rot in the fields.
That white guy from Mercedes-Benz got busted, and that was not what the law was intended to do. So, time to scrap it and come up with a new and improved version (that doesn't have such "unintended" consequences).