Here is the transcript from ALGOP State Senator Gerald Dial’s interview by Brooke Baldwin on CNN:
BALDWIN: In Alabama, you have got supporters of the state’s new illegal immigration law expressing some buyer’s remorse. It recently came to a head after police arrested a German who ended later turned out to be a Mercedes-Benz executive, Mercedes-Benz, a major employer in the state of Alabama.
Also then, a Japanese man was detained, and he turned out to work for Honda, another big employer. That prompted a paper in Missouri to invite foreign carmakers to relocate there. Take a look at the quote: “We are the Show Me State, not the show me your papers state” — “Saint Louis Post-Dispatch.”
Joining me now from Montgomery, State Senator Gerald Dial. He is Alabama’s Republican whip.
And, Senator Dial, thanks for coming on.
I know you supported this law, parts of which took effect back in September. It’s considered now — and I have talked to your governor, he agrees — the nation’s toughest. Are you, sir, having some second thoughts?
GERALD DIAL (R), ALABAMA STATE SENATOR: We certainly are. And we’re also looking at making some changes in this law.
We probably overreached. I think most people in Alabama agree that we overreached on this law. And we have met with Attorney General Luther Strange and look at some change that needs to be made to this law. And that’s the good thing about the legislature. The bill we passed last year, we can start in this legislative session and make some changes.
BALDWIN: We will talk about some of that overreaching and maybe potential changes in a minute.
But in terms of I guess the image, are you worried at all that your state is being branded as being hostile to overseas businesses, some surrounding states, i.e. Missouri, clearly eager to push that idea?
DIAL: Well, I certainly am.
And, you know, recruiting industry is one of the most competitive things in America. It’s worse than recruiting quarterbacks for your high school or college football team. And so we’re certainly concerned about this. And we have worked diligently in this state for 40 years to overcome some of the images that we have had.
And to see it certainly regress back to those images that are certainly not Alabama, that don’t portray the true and real Alabama certainly bothers all of us. So, we’re committed to making some changes so we can help to overcome those images.
BALDWIN: And just so I’m clear, sir, when you say make changes, we’re not talking repeal the law. You’re making tweaks. Is that correct?
DIAL: Well, we’re talking about some tweaks, but some major tweaks that we think will make this law more amenable to people of this state.
What we did, we overreached, and we — not only in trying to make sure we didn’t have illegal immigrants in this state. We also have penalized our own citizens who have lived here all their lives. All the hardships we placed on them are also hardships that we tried to place on illegal immigrants. And this was not the intention of this bill. It was not my intention.
And I made a mistake in voting on this bill as it is today, and I’m a person that will admit I made a mistake, and I’m committed to trying to correct those mistakes. And we’re working on those as you speak.
BALDWIN: All right. So, as you — you admit this mistake, how, then, do you craft legislation that would ensure your police officers don’t arrest more foreign executives whose firms provide jobs to the people of your state?
DIAL: Well, you know, that was a unique case and certainly one that probably could have been handled with a lot more compassion. But, you know, when with I go to Europe I have to have my passport to even check in a hotel.
So the individual should have certainly should have had identification with him. He made a mistake. I don’t know all the details, but he could have been a little more compassionate, say, send somebody to the room and get your passport and identify yourself.
We’ve put our law enforcement people in an awkward position of trying to enforce a law that’s not really that clear. I’ve met with the attorney general of this state, Luther Strange, last week. He has come forward with some suggestions in changing the bill, and some of these we’re going to encompass into a bill that we’re going to introduce early on in the session.
BALDWIN: So perhaps the toughest immigration law in the land may no longer be that way if you have a little something to do with it. We’ll stay on this, Alabama state senator Gerald Dial. I appreciate it. Thank you very much.
DIAL: Thank you very much.