The St. Louis Post-Dispatch proposed a plan for Mercedes-Benz’s SUV plant in Alabama after one of the automaker’s German managers, Detlev Hager, was arrested under Alabama’s draconian immigration law — move the factory to Missouri instead. The paper’s editorial board lays out their reasons in today’s editorial:
Our state has many advantages over Alabama. We are the Show-Me State, not the “Show me your papers” state. Our Legislature is hostile on the immigration issue, but not as hostile as Alabama’s or Arizona’s. […] We realize that moving a massive automotive plant is quite the undertaking, but we happen to have space for one in Fenton and a lot of trained autoworkers. A lot. We have a state law that offers up to $100 million in tax incentives for automobile plant expansion; in the last 12 months Ford and General Motors have expanded operations here. We probably could come up with a lot more for a brand new plant. […] You’ve got two choices. Either ask your executives to carry their immigration papers at all times, or move to a state that understands gemüchlichkeit.
Some business leaders are worried that the extreme immigration law will scare away foreign investors; by 2014, Mercedes will have invested $4 billion in Alabama after opening its first U.S. factory in the state in 1993. And with about 2,800 people employed by Mercedes in Alabama, losing the investment would compound the economic damage the immigration law is already causing in Alabama.
Mercedes-Benz spokeswoman Felyicia Jerald said in an email to ThinkProgress that the company was not commenting about the immigration law’s impact on Mercedes’ business in Alabama, but she said that “Mercedes-Benz will take steps to educate our visiting business guests and employees stationed in the U.S. of the documentation requirements for the State of Alabama.” Now the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has explained one way Mercedes could avoid having to make sure their foreign employees have their papers with them at all times.