Bad laws lead to bad consequences

Alabama Republicans were awfully proud of themselves earlier this year when they passed the most anti-immigrant law in the nation. Here’s hoping they’re feeling a little less satisfied now.

Last week, a manager for Mercedes-Benz, visiting from Germany, was pulled over in his rental car by a police officer in Tuscaloosa near where a Mercedes plant builds sport-utility vehicles. The manager didn’t have his driver’s license with him, and only a few months ago he just would have been given a ticket. But Alabama’s new law, now in effect, demands tougher action against suspected illegal immigrants. The manager was arrested and taken to police headquarters.

Germany is Alabama’s largest international trading partner, and Mercedes, a unit of Daimler, recently announced more than $2 billion in new investment there through 2014. Is this any way to treat a visitor, especially one representing a company that could just as easily invest in some other low-wage state? Is this any way to treat anybody at all?

The German executive was carrying a German identification card, but in Alabama, that’s not good enough, so the police took the man into custody. He was released when an aide went retrieved his passport from a nearby hotel.

The governor’s homeland security director looked into the incident and told reporters, “It sounds like the officer followed the statute correctly.”

That’s probably true. It’s also part of the problem — the question isn’t whether the officers made a mistake in enforcing the law; the question is whether this law is ridiculous.

It’s not too late for Alabama Republicans to undo their mistake. The sooner they do so, the better.

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