First alleged violator of Ala. immigration law is legal

A man suspected of violating Alabama's new immigration law turned out to be in the country legally.

The Etowah County Sheriff's Department apprehended three men from Yemen during a drug raid Friday.

One produced papers showing he had become a citizen. The second had a work visa. But the third man, who was accused of obstructing a government operation, could not produce any records and was held in jail.

Etowah County officials said Monday an attorney for 24-year-old Mohamed Ali Muflahi later produced papers showing he had legal status.

Sheriff Todd Entrekin said it was the first immigration case to come up in Etowah County since the law took effect Thursday.

A group of Alabama state senators, after learning of the arrest, dispatched a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder demanding an investigation as to why someone from an area of the world known for its hotbed of terrorism could be living in Alabama without documentation.

The letter also demanded Holder and the Justice Department cease the suit filed to challenge the state's new immigration law. A news meeting that was set for Tuesday morning to release the letter to the media was subsequently scuttled.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)