Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Immigrant Rights News - Wed, March 5, 2008

Immigrant Rights News – Wed, March 5, 2008


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1. Los Angeles Times: “GOP senators to introduce toughest-yet immigration package. Bills would mandate prison time for illegal border crossings and compel English in dealing with federal agencies.”,1,6010147.story?ctrack=1&cset=true


2. Chicago Tribune: New immigration screening methods target Muslims, critics charge,1,3594616.story


3. Los Angeles Times: “NAFTA has had its trade-offs for the U.S. Consumers and global companies benefited, but critics see pitfalls.”,1,5344449,full.story?ctrack=2&cset=true


4. Fox News:N.M. Town Split Over Immigrant's Removal”,4670,RoswellImmigrationFlap,00.html




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Los Angeles Times


GOP senators to introduce toughest-yet immigration package

Bills would mandate prison time for illegal border crossings and compel English in dealing with federal agencies.,1,6010147.story?ctrack=1&cset=true


By Nicole Gaouette

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

March 5, 2008


WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans are set to announce today the hardest-hitting package of immigration enforcement measures seen yet -- one that would require jail time for illegal immigrants caught crossing the border, make it harder for them to open bank accounts and compel them to communicate in English when dealing with federal agencies.


Most of the bills stand little chance of being debated in the Democratic-controlled Congress. But the move by some of the Senate's leading Republicans underscores how potent the immigration issue remains, particularly in a presidential election year.


The bills give Republicans a way to put pressure on the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates to take a tougher stance on immigration. They also reflect a shift toward harsher immigration rhetoric and legislative proposals from both parties since Congress failed to pass a comprehensive overhaul in 2007.


The package -- an enforcement smorgasbord assembled by at least eight lawmakers -- consists of 11 bills, but it could expand to as many as 14. Some elements echo House bills, but others go beyond House proposals.


One would discourage states from issuing driver's licenses to illegal immigrants by docking 10% of highway funding from states that continue to do so.


Another would extend the presence of the National Guard on the border, and a third would end language assistance at federal agencies and the voting booth for people with limited English ability.


A bill by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who is leading the effort, would impose a maximum two-year prison sentence on someone caught illegally crossing the border a second time.


"The point is to reinforce the idea that most of us here feel that we need to make enforcement and border security a first step to solving the overall problem," said Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), one of the sponsors.


Although Congress usually avoids tough legislation during an election year, Vitter insisted that he and his colleagues could still get something done. "There are concrete steps we can take. None of us see any reason to waste this time," he said.


Other bills in the package would

* Block federal funding to cities that bar their police from asking about immigration status.

* Give the Department of Homeland Security the authority to use information from the Social Security Administration to target illegal immigrants.

* Require construction of 700 miles of fencing along the southern border, not including vehicle barriers.

* Impose sanctions on countries that refuse to repatriate their citizens.

* Deport any immigrant, legal or illegal, for one drunk-driving conviction.

* Enable local and state police to enforce federal immigration laws.


Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), said the Republican proposal "falls far short of what is needed." Democrats want to combine enforcement with a guest-worker program and a way to deal with the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. Reid "continues to support legislation that is tough on people who break the law, fair to taxpayers and practical to implement," Manley said.


But Democrats have also begun embracing a tougher stance on immigration. A confidential study assembled for the Democratic leadership earlier this year urged them to start using tougher language. Democrats have focused on offering opportunity to immigrants, but the study by two public-policy groups urged them to begin speaking in terms of "requiring" illegal immigrants to become legal and about what's best for the United States.


Many House Democrats have gone a step further, endorsing an enforcement-only bill by freshman Democratic Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) that would bolster border security and require employers to verify their workers' legal status with an electronic verification system.


The SAVE (Secure America through Verification and Enforcement) Act has drawn 140 cosponsors, 48 of whom are Democrats, many of them vulnerable freshmen who won seats from Republicans.


The Democratic leadership dislikes Shuler's bill and has refused to schedule a debate. Republican leaders are considering collecting signatures for a special petition that requires House leaders to bring a bill up for debate if 218 members sign. There are 198 Republicans.


Angela Kelley, director of the Immigration Policy Center, said Senate Republicans might be trying to match their House colleagues. "They might feel they're being upstaged by House Republicans," she said. But she also suggested that the Senate bills could provide political protection to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who has clinched the GOP presidential nomination.


Conservatives consider McCain soft on immigration. McCain, along with Democratic presidential candidates Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois, has backed giving illegal immigrants some form of legal status, which conservatives consider "amnesty."


If McCain endorsed the Senate package, that could "create a platform for McCain to look tough on immigration, create distance from Ted Kennedy [D-Mass.] and erect a shield around the amnesty charge," Kelley said.


Besides Sessions and Vitter, the bills are being introduced by GOP Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, John Barrasso of Wyoming, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina, Pete V. Domenici of New Mexico, James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.


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Chicago Tribune

New immigration screening methods target Muslims, critics charge,1,3594616.story


By Marisa Taylor

McClatchy Newspapers

4:22 PM CST, March 3, 2008


In the six and a half years since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, federal law-enforcement agencies have secretly established profiling techniques to screen immigrants based on their nationalities, protocols that critics charge encourage the unjustified targeting of Muslims.

The profiling, described in a February 2006 Immigration and Customs Enforcement memo obtained by McClatchy Newspapers, shows that the government has relied more heavily on nationality as an indicator of security risks than was previously known.

Federal agencies have created internal lists of countries that are of "special interest" for national security reasons, wrote the memo's author, Ted Stark, supervisory special agent with the Office of Intelligence at ICE.

So many federal agencies have created different lists that U.S. officials contemplated adopting a single one to streamline the process, Stark wrote.

The proposed list, which officials said had yet to be adopted, includes 35 countries, most with significant Muslim or Arab populations. Almost 20 percent of the world's countries — including some of the United States' key allies, such as Jordan, Turkey and Egypt — are on the list.

The effort to come up with a uniform approach is another reflection of how the nation continues to grapple with finding effective ways to detect terrorists, and how those efforts sometimes collide with constitutional and legal rights.

In this case, with little or no oversight or public scrutiny, law enforcement officials have assumed flexible and expansive discretion to make screening decisions based on where an immigrant was born.

The group of agencies — which included ICE, the National Security Agency and U.S. Customs and Border Protection — not only recommended one list but also suggested an interagency definition of a "special interest alien."

Under the proposal, a special interest alien would be an immigrant with terrorist ties or an immigrant who by nationality, "ethnicity or other factors may have ties or sympathies" with the listed countries.

As a result, an immigrant who doesn't have any known terrorist links and who isn't from a country on the list conceivably could be considered a special interest alien, if his or her ethnic background included a listed country.

Stark described the proposed term as "generic enough to address all the functional issues" of federal law-enforcement agencies.

Critics charge that the screening technique not only appears to target Muslims but also is too broad to be effective.

"When you're targeting as 'special' 20 percent of the world, you're obviously sweeping far too broadly and you're going to waste a lot of resources on people who pose no threat," said David Cole, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington.

"The second problem is that when you treat people from Muslim countries as suspect merely because they come from Muslim countries, you are very likely to alienate the people here and abroad we need to be working with if we're going to get helpful information on what the real threats are."

Federal authorities wouldn't discuss the memo or the screening methods in detail but denied singling out Muslims. When asked, some confirmed that such lists existed but wouldn't disclose the identities of the nations.

According to the memo, once a federal agency designates an immigrant a "special interest alien," officials run him or her through a "full court press" of interviews, inspections and database checks.

Depending on what agents discover, such foreigners might be cleared after lengthy background checks. Or they could be flagged for detention or deportation, or become the subjects of criminal investigations.

While U.S. officials said their current special-interest country lists were based on intelligence about international terrorist networks, the proposed list doesn't include Germany and England, where authorities have acknowledged breaking up al-Qaida cells.

Cole, a leading critic of the administration's anti-terrorism initiatives, said the description of the special-interest designation confirmed his suspicions that federal law enforcement officials had gradually set up permanent profiling efforts throughout the government.

After the 9-11 attacks, federal agents detained 1,200 mainly Muslim men and separately required visa-holders from predominantly Muslim or Arab countries to be fingerprinted and registered in a database.

"This sounds like a continuation and an institutionalization of what was essentially a failed initiative in the first couple of years after 9-11," Cole said. "It's a proxy for religious and ethnic profiling."

Courts have upheld immigration policies that discriminate based on nationality, but they generally view law enforcement profiling of U.S. citizens based on ethnicity, race or religion as unconstitutional.

Proponents of stricter immigration enforcement have pressed authorities to concentrate on Muslim or Middle Eastern immigrants, given that four of the 19 Sept. 11 terrorists overstayed their visas and almost all came from Saudi Arabia.

Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, said agents had the prerogative to single out immigrants based not only on nationality but also on race, religion or ethnicity because of the federal government's broad authority in all immigration matters.

"This is not a constitutional issue," Krikorian said. "This is a question of the best law enforcement and security approach."

After the attacks, Americans expressed ambivalence about whether law enforcement should rely on profiling. While a majority thought that it was wrong to base profiling on race, religion or ethnicity, many also described it as "understandable" if Middle Easterners were singled out.

In practice, agents don't automatically scrutinize every immigrant from the listed countries, ICE and FBI officials said. Nor do agencies rely on the designation when deciding whether to pursue criminal charges or to grant U.S. citizenship or green cards.

"It's not an automatic trigger," said Steve Kodak, an FBI spokesman, who confirmed that the bureau's criminal investigative, counterintelligence and counterterrorism division used such lists. "It's a tool that agents use at their own discretion."

Kelly Nantel, an ICE spokeswoman, said her agency didn't have one list or definition but used different approaches depending on the division or situation.

"In many cases, that includes reviewing the country of origin," she said. "But it's a single consideration in an overall decision."

Attorneys for immigrants said it was impossible to know whether authorities were singling people out for the wrong reasons when so little was disclosed.

Although the government hasn't launched other mass detentions, agents continue to detain or question Muslim immigrants without explanation.

"They never say why," said Melinda Basaran, a Paterson, N.J., immigration lawyer, who said she had watched as waves of Muslims of certain ethnicities were detained or interrogated. "It's always hush-hush. The government says we can't tell you because it's national security-related, but everyone now assumes it's because they're Muslim."

Alicia Molina, a Los Angeles attorney for an Afghan who applied for political asylum, said her client's application was delayed for no apparent reason other than his nationality, although the U.S. government previously had cleared him to obtain a visa.

The college-educated engineer, who asked to remain anonymous to protect his wife and children, who remain in Pakistan, said U.S. government officials had approached him after the war to work on reconstruction projects. Although the Taliban previously had targeted him for his American ties and beaten him, he said, U.S. officials reassured him that they could protect him and pressed him to attend a conference in the United States.

After he arrived in the United States, he said, Taliban sympathizers accused his family of collaborating with the U.S. government and burned down his house. His family fled to Pakistan and went into hiding.

He permitted McClatchy Newspapers to ask ICE and Citizenship and Immigration Services about his case, but officials with those agencies said they wouldn't comment.

Considering that he had undergone a previous security check, he thought that he'd be granted asylum quickly when he filed his request in April 2004. Instead, government officials told his lawyer and him that he hadn't cleared yet another background check.

"The U.S. government brought me here. The U.S. government promised my safety. But when I go to court, no one seems to remember this," he said.

In late January, almost four years and nine court dates later, the government granted him asylum. He's now seeking to bring his wife and children to the United States.

"This clearly happened because of the country he's from," Molina said. "To me, it's un-American. But all along, the government acted like it was completely normal and that it happens to everybody."



More about American sentiment on profiling: nion9.htm


(Jonathan S. Landay and Warren P. Strobel contributed to this report.)




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Los Angeles Times


NAFTA has had its trade-offs for the U.S.

Consumers and global companies benefited, but critics see pitfalls.,1,5344449,full.story?ctrack=2&cset=true


By Marla Dickerson

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

March 3, 2008


MEXICO CITY Four campaign seasons have come and gone since presidential hopeful H. Ross Perot warned that NAFTA would create a "giant sucking sound" of jobs going to Mexico, and the trade pact is still generating plenty of noise. Calls to renegotiate the 14-year-old deal are rising from both sides of the border.

Thousands of protesters paralyzed traffic in Mexico's capital in January to demand a redo of the pact, which they said had hurt Mexican farmers. In the U.S., the North American Free Trade Agreement looms large in states such as Ohio, which hosts a crucial presidential primary Tuesday.

The Rust Belt has shed hundreds of thousands of factory jobs since 1994, when the U.S.-Canada-Mexico trade bloc was implemented. Ohio alone had lost a net 50,000 jobs as a result of NAFTA, according to a 2006 analysis by the Economic Policy Institute in Washington. Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, who are campaigning for the Democratic nomination, say the deal needs to be retooled to protect American workers.

"Let's get real about NAFTA. It simply isn't working for all Americans," Clinton said at a recent rally in Youngstown, Ohio. If elected, she said, she would call for a temporary freeze on new trade pacts and a thorough review of existing ones. Obama wants stronger labor and environmental provisions put into NAFTA and other accords.

Whether talk of revamping NAFTA amounts to more than election-year stumping remains to be seen. Three-way trade has soared and unemployment in the U.S. is substantially lower now than it was 14 years ago -- 4.9% in January 2008 compared with 6.6% in January 1994. American shoppers have benefited from lower prices on imported goods, and U.S.-based multinational companies have boosted their competitiveness by whittling production costs.

Yet there is growing wariness among the public that the U.S. is giving away more than it's getting. After all, the nation has lost 3.1 million manufacturing jobs since 1994, and its trade deficit with Mexico and Canada has risen to $138.5 billion last year from $9.1 billion in 1993.

Lawmakers who are critical of the Bush administration's trade policies picked up 37 congressional seats in the 2006 election, according to Global Trade Watch, a Washington-based advocacy group. Although Congress approved a free trade pact with Peru in December, pending deals with Colombia, Panama and South Korea are stalled.

It's not just Democrats who want a time out. Six in 10 Republican voters said that free trade had hurt the U.S. and that they would support tougher import restrictions, according to a Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll in October.

"We're seeing the strongest opposition to free trade expansion in recent memory," said Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas, a Washington-based business group that promotes open markets in the Western Hemisphere. "NAFTA has become symbolic of the fears and apprehensions of globalization in general."

Despite promises that NAFTA would help keep Mexicans at home, illegal immigration to the U.S. has accelerated. About two-thirds of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States have arrived since 1995, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. Many hail from rural Mexico -- casualties, critics say, of a trade deal that pitted highly subsidized U.S. and Canadian agribusiness against Mexican producers working tiny plots.

"The dimensions of the problem are finally becoming obvious," said Raul Fernandez, a professor of Chicano and Latino studies at UC Irvine. "Policymakers in the United States realize they have created a monster, and that monster is devouring them."

Free trade agreements have been the centerpiece of the Bush administration's relations with Latin America, where the U.S. has long promoted democracy, privatization and open markets as the prescription for the region's woes. Free market advocates are concerned that rising U.S. protectionism will signal a retreat from these principles just as Washington is losing influence to populists such as Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Despite strong economic growth in much of Latin America in recent years, trust in market economics is declining, according to a poll released in November by Latinobarametro, a Chilean opinion research firm. Millions are frustrated that privatization and falling trade barriers have done little to mitigate income inequality.

Survey respondents in Central America were particularly downbeat, despite that region's recent embrace of the Central American Free Trade Agreement, which includes the U.S., the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua.

In a separate 2007 opinion poll, Mexicans said they disapproved of NAFTA by 2 to 1, according to the Mexico City-based polling firm Mund Americas. That's an about-face from 10 years ago, when Mexicans favored the deal by a similar ratio.

The shift reflects disappointment that NAFTA hasn't done more to transform Mexico's economy, said Dan Lund, president of Mund Americas. Although the nation's exports have soared and Mexico has attracted record levels of foreign investment, more than 40% of its citizens still live in poverty. The nation still isn't creating enough jobs to keep up with population growth.

Mexico's government oversold NAFTA to get it approved, Lund said. "It was as if everything, including adolescent acne, would be resolved."

Free trade boosters say unrealistic expectations have soured ordinary people in both countries on NAFTA. The pact, they believe, is a scapegoat for failed government policies and larger economic trends.

Although NAFTA clearly has put some American factory hands out of work, manufacturing employment has been declining since the 1970s, largely as a result of automation.

NAFTA may have pushed some Mexican farmers off the land. But experts say most illegal immigrants were pulled north by back-to-back economic booms in the United States, where they found companies eager to hire them regardless of their legal status.

Mexico's economy lags in part because it's dominated by monopolies that its government has been unwilling or unable to dismantle. Its farm sector was struggling long before NAFTA, said David Lewis, vice president of Manchester Trade Ltd., a Washington-based consulting firm specializing in international trade.

Under the agreement, the last tariffs on agricultural products were lifted Dec. 31. Although Mexico had 14 years to prepare its farmers with subsidies, technical assistance, land reform and other help, many small growers say it failed to do so. They want President Felipe Calderon to renegotiate NAFTA's agricultural chapter to restore tariffs on commodities such as corn and beans.

But his administration has opposed any such move. NAFTA backers note that some Mexican farmers have prospered under the deal: Although only about 5% do any exporting, they've been so successful at sending avocados, tomatoes and other fruit north that Mexico now runs a trade surplus in agricultural products with the United States.

Even U.S. critics of NAFTA agree that there's no turning back globalization, but they say the U.S. must get tougher in demanding equitable exchanges.

Sens. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) recently introduced legislation to make it harder to pass trade agreements unless they include a detailed analysis of what's in it for the U.S., such as how many jobs are expected to be lost or gained.

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) is co-sponsoring the NAFTA Accountability Act, which would require America to quit the pact unless changes are made to gird U.S. manufacturing and cut the trade deficits with Mexico and Canada.

Others want strict enforcement of labor and environmental laws in developing countries and more retraining and financial aid for workers who lose their livelihoods.

Jeff Faux, founding president of the Economic Policy Institute, thinks NAFTA requires a bigger fix. He advocates a $100-billion, U.S.-backed development fund to stimulate job growth in Mexico, similar to what the European Union did to prevent its rich nations from being flooded with workers from poorer countries such as Portugal and Greece.

He said pulling out of the deal was impossible, given the links forged by the U.S., Canada and Mexico over the last 14 years. But he added that the talk of renegotiation among U.S. presidential candidates showed how attitudes had changed since President Clinton signed NAFTA into law.

Clinton "used to say, 'If it doesn't work, let's redo it,' " Faux said. "Well, it's not working. . . . It's time to rethink the whole strategy."



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Fox News


N.M. Town Split Over Immigrant's Removal,4670,RoswellImmigrationFlap,00.html


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

By DEBORAH BAKER, Associated Press Writer


Karina Acosta's senior year at Roswell High came to an abrupt end after she was ticketed for blocking a fire lane outside a school and driving without a license.

The officer who stopped her _ a Roswell policeman assigned to the school _ asked her for proof of legal U.S. residency. Acosta, an illegal immigrant, had none. The officer telephoned immigration authorities, and Acosta, 18 and pregnant, was sent back to Mexico.

The episode has caused a furor in town, with teachers and others complaining that Acosta's treatment violated the spirit, if not the letter, of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that has all but made the nation's public schools safe havens for illegal immigrants.

"The school was considered a place you could come and not have to worry," said Coreta Justus, a teacher at 1,300-student Roswell High. She added: "My job is to educate whoever walks in my classroom."

Complaining of racism and unfair treatment, students demonstrated on Main Street and drew adult counter-protesters. Irate parents confronted school officials. The police officer was taken off the school beat, and the program that put him on the high school campus was suspended. At least one teacher reported a few students stayed away for weeks after the incident, afraid they would meet the same fate as Acosta.

Three months later, Acosta's case is still dividing people in Roswell, a town 200 miles north of the Mexican border that has built a tourism industry around a rumored UFO crash in 1947 that was supposedly covered up by the government. Roswell, population 45,000, is at least 44 percent Hispanic.

Officer Charlie Corn reported that he spotted Acosta blocking a fire lane in late November while she was dropping off a youngster at a middle school. Corn, who was on traffic duty at the school, followed Acosta to the high school nearby, discovered she had no license and ticketed her.

He gave her several days to produce proof of legal residency, after which he called her into his campus office and contacted immigration authorities. They immediately took her to a juvenile detention center, and she agreed to be sent back to the Mexican state of Chihuahua rather than fight deportation.

A 1982 Supreme Court ruling guarantees children who are in the U.S. illegally the right to a public education, and says schools cannot inquire about their immigration status. Federal authorities have a policy of not enforcing immigration laws on school grounds.

But the question of whether police may do so is murkier.

Marisol Perez of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund said Corn's actions were "certainly questionable and problematic." She said the case was "just as egregious" as that of three students who were arrested at an Albuquerque high school in 2004 on immigration charges. The students sued the police, who later settled.

Jennifer Moore, who teaches international, human rights and refugee law at the University of New Mexico, said making students vulnerable to deportation at school is "making a mockery" of their right to public education.

And it is occurring "in the very place where they have the greatest chance at getting the skills they need to participate in this society that they are living in," she said.

Roswell's interim police chief, Scott Douglass, defended Corn, saying that the 10-year veteran was investigating a crime and that officers may ask people in the course of a criminal investigation about their immigration status.

But the chief said that in the future, "Enforcement action like that would probably be taken after school hours and off of campus."

Assistant School Superintendent Mike Kakuska told parents immediately after the incident that the school system didn't support the officer's actions and had protested Acosta's arrest to immigration authorities.

The legal question aside, some of Acosta's former teachers said she was wronged.

Dolores Fresquez said her former student was well-behaved, had good grades and held down a job. Fresquez, who teaches Spanish and English as a second language, estimated that up to 90 percent of the students in the old, yellow brick high school are Hispanic, and perhaps 40 percent of those are illegal.

"The thing that made me angry is that schools are supposed to be safe for any student, regardless of what nationality, what age they may be," the teacher said.

But others in Roswell resent the influx of Mexicans who are in the U.S. illegally and complain the newcomers are using resources such as hospital emergency rooms without paying enough in taxes.

"They're here freeloading, and that's exactly the reason I think they should not be allowed in the school system," said Gene Warren, a retired telephone repairman.

An Acosta family friend, Rosie Delgado, said that Acosta's mother, who has also been living in Roswell, was terrified after the incident and that the girl's two younger sisters were afraid to return to school for a week or so. Delgado said family members don't want to talk to reporters, and she would not disclose their whereabouts.

The Rev. Juan Montoya of St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church said many in his congregation live in fear of being picked up by police in Roswell.

"It's not just about Karina. Karina is just one of many," said Montoya, a Mexican-American. "I know people who have been picked up _ didn't break a law, they didn't pass a stop sign, they didn't do anything."


<><><> the end / el fin / tamat <><><>


Arnoldo Garcia

National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

Red Nacional Pro Derechos Inmigrantes y Refugiados

310 8th Street Suite 303

Oakland, CA 94607

Tel (510) 465-1984 ext. 305

Fax (510) 465-1885


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