Alabama immigration law nabs yet another foreign auto industry executive

Last week, I posted Nothing “unintended” in arrest of Mercedes executive in Alabama.

Now Alabama’s strict anti-immigration law, which has done some serious damage to the state’s agricultural sector and has caused all sorts of other problems, has led to the arrest of Honda executive Ichiro Yada.

From England’s The Guardian: Alabama red-faced as second foreign car boss held under immigration law. From the piece:

A judge has acted to put a Japanese employee of Honda Motor Company out of his misery by dismissing immigration charges against him, three days after he was booked under Alabama’s new immigration laws that have been billed as the most swingeing in America. Ichiro Yada is one of about 100 Japanese managers of the company on assignment in southern state.

Yada was stopped in Leeds, Alabama, at a checkpoint set up by police to catch unlicenced drivers. He was ticketed on the spot, despite the fact that he showed an international driver’s licence, a valid passport and a US work permit.

Apparently, the law does not honor an international driver’s license; foreign drivers have to have a license from their home country.

The folks at St. Louis Today are having a good time with Alabama’s embarrassment in this open letter to Mercedes:

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.

Unlike in Alabama, our law enforcement officials won’t check immigration status unless presenting you for incarceration on other offenses. In St. Louis, we not only welcome immigrants (outside of Valley Park), but we have a proud German heritage.

Many of our founders came from your country, and at least two elements of traditional German heritage — hard work and beer — stuck.

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.

Fron the WSJ’s Law Tests Alabama’s Appeal:

Some foreign companies that have looked at investing in the southwestern town of Thomasville “now have reservations because of the immigration law,” said Mayor Sheldon Day.

“One company in particular stated that until they could find out more about the law and fully understand it, they were going to hold back on visiting,” Mr. Day said. He declined to name specific companies.

Greg Canfield, head of the Alabama Development Office, said the law hadn’t come up in his discussions with potential foreign investors. The only concerns he has heard have come from local industrial recruiters alarmed by the bad press the measure has drawn, he said.

“Alabama is a state that is very much open to international relationships,” said Mr. Canfield, who voted for the immigration law earlier this year when he was still a state representative.

In March, a Chinese company, Golden Dragon Precise Copper Tube Group, announced plans to build a $100 million plant in Thomasville that would mark the first foray by a Chinese manufacturer into the state. While the company remains committed to the project, it has expressed unease to local leaders about the immigration law, according to a person familiar with the matter.

From the Birmingham News editorial board’s Alabama’s overreaching immigration law is showing itself to be far more trouble than it could possibly be worth:

Republicans touted the bill as a jobs bill, yet, as a law, it likely is having the opposite effect. Construction industry officials say they have even lost crews made up of documented workers simply because they were afraid of how they’d be treated under the law. Recent unemployment statistics show the construction sector lost 1,900 jobs in October, the most recent month figures are available. Other job sectors that attract immigrant workers such as restaurants and hotels also lost jobs in October.

Meanwhile, farmers across Alabama watched as their crops rotted because they couldn’t find enough replacement workers to harvest their fields. And there is no telling how big the impact will be on the state’s industry-recruiting efforts.

“I can tell you that in economic development, it is a very rough-and-tumble game,” said Win Hallett, president and chief executive officer of the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce. “And to think that our competitors are not beating us over the head with this would just be folly. They are, and it’s hurting us.”

In the wake of passing its own anti-immigration bill, Georgia has been spared such international embarrassments, but there’s no doubt that any number of economic sectors — from agriculture to housing — have taken a hit.