Honda worker caught in new Alabama immigration net
BIRMINGHAM, Ala (Reuters) - A second foreign auto worker has been stopped by authorities in Alabama, where the nation's toughest immigration law recently went into effect, officials said on Wednesday.
A Honda worker on assignment at the company's Lincoln, Alabama, factory was issued a citation.
The immigration law requires proper identification to be produced during routine traffic stops. People suspected of being in the country illegally can be detained.
"We understand he is working with authorities to resolve this matter," said Ted Pratt, spokesman for Honda Manufacturing of Alabama. He described the worker as "a Japanese associate on assignment."
Last week, a German executive, Detlev Hager, was arrested when he could not produce a passport or driver's license. Those charges have been dropped, according to the Tuscaloosa sheriff's office.
The Alabama law, widely seen as the toughest state measure on illegal immigration, requires police to detain people they suspect of being in the United States illegally if they cannot produce proper documentation when stopped for any reason.
A U.S. appeals court last month blocked Alabama from enforcing part of the new law, including a controversial provision that permits Alabama to require public schools to determine the legal residency of children upon enrollment.
But businesses in the state, especially agriculture, have protested against the law, which they say has caused widespread desertions of Hispanic workers from the state.
Alabama, offering non-union plants, has also risen in recent years from no auto industry to number five in the nation in auto manufacturing, according to the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama.
Mercedes-Benz was heavily recruited in the early 1990s, opening a plant in Tuscaloosa in 1993. Honda followed suit in 1999 and now has the capacity to produce 300,000 vehicles a year with its 4,000 employees.
Honda's investment in Alabama is $1.4 billion, according to the company's website.
"It is part of Alabama's law. There is not a whole lot we can do until the Alabama legislature sees that there is a problem," Lincoln Mayor Lew Watson said of the arrests of auto workers. "They would prefer that this not happen, I am sure."
(Editing by Peter Bohan)