Mercedes plant manager arrested over Ala. immigration law

Police say a German executive with Mercedes-Benz is free after being arrested under Alabama's strict new law targeting illegal immigrants.

Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steven Anderson tells The Associated Press an officer stopped a rental vehicle for not having a tag on Wednesday. Anderson says the man only had a German identification card, so he was arrested and taken to police headquarters.

The chief says the 46-year-old was charged with not having proper identification. He was released after an associate retrieved his passport, visa and German driver's license from his hotel.

Anderson says the outcome of the court case isn't clear. He identifies the driver as a member of Mercedes' management team. The carmaker builds SUVs at a plant in nearby Vance.


A new federal lawsuit was filed Friday challenging a section of Alabama's immigration law that civil rights groups say makes it impossible for those who can't prove U.S. citizenship or lawful immigration status to legally keep their manufactured homes

The lawsuit was filed Friday in federal court in Montgomery by two immigrants in Elmore County named in the lawsuit only as "John Doe No. 1" and "John Doe No. 2." They are challenging a section of the law that prohibits most contracts where one party is an illegal immigrant.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs say that provision is being used by state revenue officials to keep illegal immigrants from paying an annual registration fee and obtaining a decal that by law must be displayed on manufactured homes. State law requires the registration to be renewed by Nov. 30.

One of the attorneys for the plaintiffs, Mary Bauer, legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, said that without the permit some people may be forced to abandon their homes and left homeless.

"It's a flagrant violation of the Fair Housing Act and the United States Constitution," Bauer said.

The plaintiffs asked U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson to issue a temporary restraining order stopping state officials from preventing illegal immigrants from renewing their manufactured home permits.

A hearing on the request was held Friday evening in Thompson's chambers. Thompson did not issue an immediate ruling.

The hearing was not open to the public. State Revenue Commissioner Julie Magee, who is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, could not be reached for comment Friday evening.

This is one of several lawsuits that have been filed seeking to stop all or parts of the immigration law, which has been described by supporters and critics as the toughest in the country.

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