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Second foreign auto worker hassled: Will Alabama immigration law cost state?

First, a foreign auto worker was arrested. Now one has been ticketed under Alabama's anti-illegal-immigration law. Could neighboring states lure away businesses that employ foreigners?

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Citing the embarrassing arrest of a foreign auto worker under Alabama's new immigration law, a Missouri newspaper recently extended an open invitation to companies like Mercedes to leave Alabama for more hospitable climes.

“Our state has many advantages over Alabama,” writes the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's editorial board. “We are the Show-Me State, not the 'Show me your papers' state.”

A right-to-work state, Alabama has been one of the most successful states in the South in attracting foreign auto companies, including Mercedes, Honda and Hyundai, making it the fifth largest car-making state.

But as the Missouri appeal indicates, that economic development – built in part on the state's success in erasing lingering perceptions of intolerance left over from the civil rights era – may now face some new hurdles from the immigration law passed in the summer and currently under review in federal court.

Two weeks after a German auto executive, Detlev Hager, was arrested when he couldn't immediately produce his driver's license during a traffic stop, a Japanese worker at an Alabama Honda plant this week was ticketed (though not arrested) under the new law.

Ron Scott, director of the Economic Development Association of Alabama, tells the Associated Press that, to his knowledge, current recruitment efforts haven't been hurt by news of foreign workers getting caught up in the law's net.


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