Mohamed Ali Muflahi, the first person arrested under Alabama's strict new immigration law, is actually residing in the United States legally, his attorney proved on Monday.
Muflahi, a 24-year-old born in Yemen, was arrested Friday during a drug raid in Etowah County, Alabama, along with two other Yemenis, the Gadsden Times reported last week. According to local Sheriff Todd Entrekin, the three men were taken into custody for obstructing a government operation, and upon processing at the jail, only Muflahi was unable to produce documentation of his legal status.
This is a misdemeanor violation according to the new Alabama immigration law that went into effect late last month, and, Entrekin told the Times last week, the first arrest carried out under the new measures.
But it turns out that Muflahi is not in the U.S. illegally, as some had suggested. His attorney provided documentation of his legal status on Monday, Etowah County officials told the Associated Press.
The controversy could put a kink in a recent push by Alabama state senators, local NBC affiliate WSFA reports. Earlier this week, the publicity surrounding the arrest prompted several Alabama state senators to draft a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder calling for the Justice Department drop its ongoing challenge to the law. But that letter never saw daylight.
The letter was set to be released to the media Tuesday morning, but the news conference was cancelled for unspecified reasons. The letter requests that Holder launch an investigation into how a citizen of Yemen settled in Alabama without detection or documentation.
Yemen is "a growing hotbed of Islamic radicalism and an operating base for the al-Qaeda terrorist network," state senator Bryan Taylor's office said.
Parts of Alabama's immigration law went into effect last Thursday after a federal judge refused to continue a block she had put on some of legislation's strictest measures in August.
Earlier on The Huffington Post: