March 2010


A view from Warner Todd Huston

Immigration is a difficult issue for conservatives these days. It is fraught with emotions and passionate feelings. Worse, whenever someone tries to discuss the issue dispassionately, the old canard of “no true Scotsman” is employed against them. But conservatives need to continue to have this discussion and get their ducks in a row on the issue because the other side has a successful call to arms that we need to prove wrong. It is too easy for the left to claim that it has “compassion” for immigrants and we don’t. We need to pull the debate away from faux “compassion” and toward the facts.

On the right we have at least two main ideas about immigration. Some want open borders and easy employment for illegals so that business has a quick and constant source of cheap labor. These business-oriented conservatives (some might call them country club Republicans) are less interested in social issues and more interested in money and economic growth. Opposing the open borders folks are those that might be called nativists, those that feel America should not have a wide open border and that America is for Americans.

The problem we have here is that there is no reason why conservatives cannot be both a nativist and an economic expansionist that wants to employ some foreign-born workers where they are needed. There is no reason why we can’t be both strong border advocates and interested in making new Americans from immigrants. Our two sides do not necessarily have to be as diametrically opposed as they seem to be.

Of course, the passion erupts when we try to reconcile these two positions. The closed borders folks all too often employ a sort of “no true Scotsman” theory against anyone that wants to make some sense of this situation. If you seem to waver from their view you aren’t a “real” conservative to too many of them. But nativists aren’t the only ones to blame as the open borders crowd dismisses everyone on the other side as yahoos and hatemongers when the truth is that Nativists only want to follow the Constitution and protect American culture. We need to get past the name calling and remember that we need to be on the same page of this matter or the left will win making things unsuitable for all of us on the right.

Some of the open borders crowd have come to realize that open borders are no longer a good idea. Not long ago, for instance, I spoke to Richard Nadler, president of Americas Majority Foundation, and he realized that after 9/11, open borders was suicide. Nadler’s group is a conservative pro immigrant-labor organization that specializes in minority outreach. Nadler feels that to be seen as the anti-Hispanic party will destroy the GOPs electoral future. He makes a good argument in many ways.

To my personal experience, I have seen many sons and daughters of immigrants — both legal and illegal — and these kids don’t want to be Mexicans, or Guatemalans, or what have you. They might not mind visiting the country of their parent’s birth but they generally would rather stay here and they think of themselves as Americans. But I will have to agree with Nadler that if these young people grow up thinking that the GOP is filled with people that hate them, then these new voters will reflexively vote Democrat in huge numbers. I believe Nadler is right that we could be committing electoral suicide if we allow this perception to grow.

But this need to seem more friendly to Americans of Hispanic origin does not mean we have to throw away American principles, our culture or our laws. Nor do we need to open the border wide and let just anyone come here. We have every right to try to put breakers on the flow of foreign immigrants and a responsibility to think of America first.

Now, many thousands of illegal immigrants have returned home over the last two years. This is because the economy is such that the easy jobs these people filled have dried up. But at some point our economy will pick up again and the influx of illegals will resume to fill the jobs a stronger economy creates. We need to try and solve this problem now, before our economy picks up and the influx resumes. So, at some point the left is right that now is an ideal time for comprehensive immigration reform. But let it be on our terms, not the lefts.

Here are some of the points we must consider:

  • Tougher border security measures
  • A logical path to citizenship for those here
  • A robust guest worker program
  • Broader enforcement of the laws already on the books
  • Implementation of the e-verify system to determine whether a worker is a legal resident
  • An end to welfare and free in-state tuition to illegals
  • An end to automatic citizenship to babies of foreigners

Am I suggesting total amnesty? Certainly not. But this problem is bigger than just imagining it is possible to deport millions of people all at once. We are past the time when we can stick our fingers in our ears and yell “la,la,la” in hopes that the problem will go away. Our past politicians have failed us on this issue. It is up to us to fix it.

There is one final area that impinges on immigration that must be considered here: education.

Currently our educational system coddles illegals by teaching kids in Spanish only classes. Our schools also fail our society by downplaying American principles and eschewing American exceptionalism. We must return American principles to our schools. After all, if kids are taught that America is a bad place, why should they grow up to want to protect our American heritage? This is no less true for the child of a natural born citizens than that of a foreign born immigrant. Further, how do we expect the kids of immigrants to grow up to want to be acculturated to American ideals if we tell them that America is a bad place? An important place to make American citizens is in school. As conservatives we need to take back our schools from the extreme left that now runs them.

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The body of Rancher Rob Krentz and his dog were found shot to death on his ranch. Krentz, who always was good-natured and willing to help people, had called in that he had found an illegal alien at one of his watering holes and was assisting him. That was the last that was heard from him before his body was discovered.

Rob Krentz was a lifelong rancher in Southeastern Arizona, 12 miles north of the U.S./Mexico border and 25 miles northeast of the city of Douglas. He was the father of three children. The ranch has been in his family for three generations, more than 100 years – since 1907, and sits on about 35,000 acres with 1,000 head of cattle. Running a ranch is hard work and with the influx of illegal aliens increasing, Rob was at ground zero of the stampede that is destroying the fragile desert landscape.

The Krentz family has received numerous threats in the past by illegal aliens trespassing on their property. In 2002, the family was physically threatened when one of them stumbled upon a group of 39 illegal aliens. They were told to get off the land and they made threats. The Border Patrol did catch the illegal aliens after they were called, but we all know that illegal aliens, if deported, come right back across.

In 1999, Krentz and his wife Susan did an interview with PBS when they came around asking about the issue of illegal immigration and its impacts on the local ranchers. “We’ve been broken into,” Susan Krentz told PBS.

“One time,” Rob said “You know, we’ve personally been broke in once. And they took about $700 worth of stuff. And you know, if they come in and ask for water, I’ll still give them water. I – you know, that’s just my nature.”

In 2003, Congressman Tom Tancredo mentioned the challenges of the border ranchers, and in particular highlighted the the Krentz family’s plight. “In the month of November, 2002, in the Tucson Sector of the U.S. Border Patrol … where the Krentz ranch is located, the Border Patrol apprehended 23,000 border crossers,” Tancredo wrote. “many people would suggest that the [apprehension] ratio is just about maybe one in five, and that is a very conservative estimate. … I think it is closer to one in ten”.

That means in that sector alone for one month, 8 years ago, the most conservative estimate is that 115,000 illegal aliens crossed the border in that one chunk of land in the Tucson sector. All of the illegals are unknown.

Tancredo notes that the Krentz’s did mention to him that they called the Border Patrol. In one instance illegal aliens had butchered one of his calves.

In February [2002] … a calf was butchered by illegal alien trespassers. Two men responsible were caught. They were tried. They were found guilty. They served a total of 51 days in jail. They were also ordered to pay $200 in restitution to the Krentz ranch. The Krentz ranch has not seen a cent of that money; and, of course, our best guess is they will not because these people have been released. They either came back into the population up here in the U.S.A. or returned to Mexico.

Tancredo goes into the cases of deliberate sabotage of the Krentz ranch’s water supply and the other impacts on the Krentz’s by illegal aliens. You can read more, where Tancredo dubs the Krentzs American Homeland Heroes

6 years after the PBS interview, in 2005, Krentz did an interview with KOLD as the number of illegal aliens exploded. “We’re being over-run, and it’s costing us lots and lots of money,” Krentz said.

“We figured it up over the last five years and it’s cost us over $8 million,” Krentz said. “Cattle don’t like people walking through, so they move. So, cattle weight loss, destruction of fences, breaking our pipelines, they break them in two and (the pipes) run for two or three days before we find it.”

Krentz went on to say that when he was a boy he actually knew the few illegal aliens that came through looking for work, he said it’s nothing like that now as hundreds of unknown illegals stream across his land.

Rob Krentz is just one of the many people who live and work along our southern border. A tough, hard working man who was trying to make a living and doing what he loved. Those who support illegal aliens will talk about “human rights”, but where were the “human rights” when it came to Rob Krentz? Where was the government to protect our border and prevent this from happening, though they’ve been told time and time again? They didn’t protect his property rights, nor his civil rights.

This country failed Robert Krentz, his family and all who work for him. As they have failed countless families all across this country. The number of deaths is estimated to be from 15-25 deaths caused by illegal aliens each day in this country.

It is not known yet whether Krentz was specifically targeted or whether it was just one of the hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens who come across our border every year who have actual criminal records, but in the end does it matter? A hard working man was killed on his own land. And all for just trying to help out someone in need.

And that is simply outrageous. Rest in peace Robert Krentz, the country will surely miss a great and kind man like you.

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Immigration Minister Jason Kenney did a smiling impersonation of a warm and furry welcome mat on Monday, throwing open Canada’s arms to a higher wave of refugees for resettlement here, the winners qualifying for up to two years of food and shelter on the government’s tab.

But on Tuesday a harder-nosed Kenney will strap on steel-toed boots to kickstart a faster exit for system-clogging unqualified asylum-seekers who only qualify for a taxpayer-financed plane ticket.

His bill will target bogus and backlogged refugees for eviction within a year, dramatically shortening a process than can drag on through pointless appeals for more than two years while costing up to $50,000 before a handcuffed claimant is marched to a departure gate for deportation.

The plan will apparently free up funds to hire a beefed-up immigration security force and introduce a program to finance an early exit for those surrendering to the system who meekly want to go home.

It might also be a good bet for wannabe Canadians in Hungary to get moving on their paperwork because it sounds like they could be added to the visa-required list of countries today.

But the most contentious provision will be to divide the globe into ‘safe’ and ‘dangerous’ countries when a refugee’s file is up for consideration.

Illegal asylum seekers from safe countries would be deported to their homeland on an accelerated basis. Those facing difficult or dangerous conditions would be given closer official scrutiny to ensure they are not at mortal risk if returned.

This makes obvious sense, but it has Can of Worms written all over it as the final list is drawn up, undoubtedly causing all sorts of diplomatic friction as good, bad or ugly labels are applied.

It would understate the obvious to suggest a crackdown on bogus refugees in Canada has been too long in the making and it would be wrong to give the Conservatives the gold star for fixing an ailing system which deteriorated badly under their watch.

But progress is noted in cutting the bloated 600,000-applicant overseas backlog. Visa requirements imposed on countries flooding Canada with bogus claimants have slowed the refugee influx, and moves to accept more of those who have skills for our economy have worked almost too well, as foreign processing centres are swamped by desirable applications.

Mr. Kenney’s nudging a difficult file in a forward direction in a way that even Liberals confide is overdue, necessary and will be supported politically if the advance billing is correct.

Today’s move will bring in another 2,500 of the world’s most unfortunate people drawn from 10 million trapped, sometimes for their entire lives, in squalid camps inside the least developed countries. While it’s a modest bump, increasing Canada’s existing resettlement program by just 20 per cent with most of those covered by private sponsorships, it’s a humanitarian move that’s impossible to criticize.

But for the 60,000-plus who are waiting for Immigration and Refugee Board hearings or appeals to be heard in court, faster processing is on the way.

Mr. Kenney is musing about replacing Immigration and Refugee Boards, usually loaded with government patronage appointments, with his own departmental officials.

This would have the welcome effect of eliminating political considerations for immigration approvals, sometimes dictated by board member bias instead of an applicant’s qualifications, to be replacing by cold-hearted verdicts from semi-neutral mandarins.

The poster villain in this mess is claimants who immediately pocket welfare benefits while dragging out their appeals. But the tough love proposal is actually good news for confused and huddled types who are not motivated just to milk the system.

Thousands of refugee applicants, many lured here by unethical immigration consultants abroad, get trapped on the waitlists for far too long, unable to get a decent job, settle down with a spouse or start a family until the system finally kicks them out.

It’s not like Canada doesn’t need immigration. The Liberal deep thinkers conference on the weekend was told in graphic terms that the best hope to cope with the looming shortage of skilled labor was aggressive and selective immigration.

The challenge for Jason Kenney is to roll out the welcome mat and then play bouncer, extending a welcome handshake to the skilled or those most desperate for humanitarian consideration, while turning away the unqualified or the undesirable.

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Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has reached an unwelcome milestone after the 100th boat carrying asylum seekers arrived under his watch. Yesterday’s embarrassing century was immediately seized on by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, who claimed Labor had lost control of Australia’s borders. And with hundreds of boat people expected to arrive in coming months, the Government is bracing for a voter backlash when the election is held later this year.

Adding to the Government’s concerns was yesterday’s escape by three Chinese nationals from Sydney’s Villawood Detention Centre. That takes to seven the number of escapes from the centre in the past month and eight for the year so far.

Anxious Government MPs admit voters are growing increasingly concerned about the breach of Australia’s borders and many are demanding tougher action.

In the latest incident, two boats carrying a total of 85 asylum seekers were intercepted by naval vessels, one near Christmas Island yesterday and another near Ashmore Reef northwest of Western Australia on Sunday night. The refugees were last night on their way to Christmas Island.

With the election year less than three months old, a near record 32 boats have already arrived in Australian waters. They have carried 1574 asylum seekers – most from Afghanistan which has seen increased hostilities following the resurgence of the al-Qaeda-aligned Taliban.

The Rudd Government claims the surge in boat people arrivals is due to global factors, however the Opposition blamed what it called Mr Rudd’s softer border policies.

Fresh from completing his weekend triathlon, Mr Abbott hit out at the Government for softening its immigration policies. “The Government plainly is at sixes and sevens over this,” Mr Abbott said. “Today the 100th boat has arrived at Christmas Island since the Rudd Government abandoned the Howard government’s border policies.

“We’ve had 89 asylum seekers transferred from Christmas Island to Villawood, allegedly for security reasons, and yet some are escaping. This really is a Government that has lost control of Australia’s borders.”

The Opposition reported that the hot button issue was causing major concerns in marginal seats, particularly in regional areas. It will run a tough election campaign arguing that Mr Rudd’s decision to scrap the Coalition’s tougher border-control measures had been a key factor in the increased arrivals.

Some Labor MPs are reporting an increase in community concern over the refugee issue. “It’s not going to lose us an election but it is causing us grief,” one senior Labor MP said.

But the Government is unlikely to revert to Mr Howard’s tougher border protection measures, which included temporary protection visas and offshore processing under the so-called Pacific Solution.

The Government is now being forced to send planeloads of asylum seekers on to the mainland as it tries to prevent the Christmas Island detention centre from being clogged with new arrivals.

Apart from the 89 moved from Christmas Island to Villawood on Saturday, another 51 detainees were transferred to various mainland locations last week. The Immigration Department has a facility at Darwin on standby to take the spillover from Christmas Island but the Government is trying to avoid using this. Another transfer from Christmas Island is expected to be made today, with many of them granted visas.

Senator Evans has said the 89 already transferred to Villawood were on a “removal pathway” after having their claims for asylum rejected.

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A simple reform would drain some scalding steam from immigration arguments that may soon again be at a roiling boil. It would bring the interpretation of the 14th Amendment into conformity with what the authors of its text intended, and with common sense, thereby removing an incentive for illegal immigration.

To end the practice of “birthright citizenship,” all that is required is to correct the misinterpretation of that amendment’s first sentence: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.” From these words has flowed the practice of conferring citizenship on children born here to illegal immigrants.

A parent from a poor country, writes professor Lino Graglia of the University of Texas law school, “can hardly do more for a child than make him or her an American citizen, entitled to all the advantages of the American welfare state.” Therefore, “It is difficult to imagine a more irrational and self-defeating legal system than one which makes unauthorized entry into this country a criminal offense and simultaneously provides perhaps the greatest possible inducement to illegal entry.”

Writing in the Texas Review of Law and Politics, Graglia says this irrationality is rooted in a misunderstanding of the phrase “subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” What was this intended or understood to mean by those who wrote it in 1866 and ratified it in 1868? The authors and ratifiers could not have intended birthright citizenship for illegal immigrants because in 1868 there were and never had been any illegal immigrants because no law ever had restricted immigration.

If those who wrote and ratified the 14th Amendment had imagined laws restricting immigration — and had anticipated huge waves of illegal immigration — is it reasonable to presume they would have wanted to provide the reward of citizenship to the children of the violators of those laws? Surely not.

The Civil Rights Act of 1866 begins with language from which the 14th Amendment’s Citizenship Clause is derived: “All persons born in the United States, and not subject to any foreign power, excluding Indians not taxed, are hereby declared to be citizens of the United States.” (Emphasis added.) The explicit exclusion of Indians from birthright citizenship was not repeated in the 14th Amendment because it was considered unnecessary. Although Indians were at least partially subject to U.S. jurisdiction, they owed allegiance to their tribes, not the United States. This reasoning — divided allegiance — applies equally to exclude the children of resident aliens, legal as well as illegal, from birthright citizenship. Indeed, today’s regulations issued by the departments of Homeland Security and Justice stipulate:

“A person born in the United States to a foreign diplomatic officer accredited to the United States, as a matter of international law, is not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. That person is not a United States citizen under the 14th Amendment.”

Sen. Lyman Trumbull of Illinois was, Graglia writes, one of two “principal authors of the citizenship clauses in 1866 act and the 14th Amendment.” He said that “subject to the jurisdiction of the United States” meant subject to its “complete” jurisdiction, meaning “not owing allegiance to anybody else.” Hence children whose Indian parents had tribal allegiances were excluded from birthright citizenship.

Appropriately, in 1884 the Supreme Court held that children born to Indian parents were not born “subject to” U.S. jurisdiction because, among other reasons, the person so born could not change his status by his “own will without the action or assent of the United States.” And “no one can become a citizen of a nation without its consent.” Graglia says this decision “seemed to establish” that U.S. citizenship is “a consensual relation, requiring the consent of the United States.” So: “This would clearly settle the question of birthright citizenship for children of illegal aliens. There cannot be a more total or forceful denial of consent to a person’s citizenship than to make the source of that person’s presence in the nation illegal.”

Congress has heard testimony estimating that more than two-thirds of all births in Los Angeles public hospitals, and more than half of all births in that city, and nearly 10 percent of all births in the nation in recent years, have been to illegal immigrant mothers. Graglia seems to establish that there is no constitutional impediment to Congress ending the granting of birthright citizenship to persons whose presence here is “not only without the government’s consent but in violation of its law.”

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You can’t have open borders and a generous welfare state

Now that Congress has passed ObamaCare, some are pressing the White House to turn to immigration reform. Only hours before House Democrats voted on March 21 for a federal takeover of the U.S. health-care system, thousands of demonstrators led by liberal activists gathered on the National Mall to demand more open immigration policies and “Legalization Now!” for undocumented aliens.

But a larger welfare state is not conducive to comprehensive immigration reform. If foreigners start coming for handouts instead of economic opportunity, tighter restrictions will be justified.

American liberals have advocated the creation of a European-style welfare state since at least the 1960s. Yet according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Europe still spends twice as much as the U.S. on social programs—20% of gross domestic product versus 10%—and assistance aimed at the poor and the unemployed is especially generous. Also more generous, in the main, are European public pensions—wealth-redistribution mechanisms that effectively take from the affluent young and give to the old.

The U.S.-Europe welfare disparity to a large extent reflects different attitudes and preferences. Europeans tend to view the poor as hard-luck cases who aren’t personally responsible for their situation, while Americans perceive welfare recipients as shiftless cheats. A 2005 World Values Survey found that 71% of Americans see poverty as a condition that can be overcome by dint of hard work, while only 40% of Europeans share that viewpoint.

As voters came to understand ObamaCare for what it is—another enormous, underfunded entitlement program that will expand the welfare state and increase dependency on government—it’s no wonder that they turned against the bill. (A CNN poll on the day of the climactic House vote found that 59% of respondents opposed the legislation, versus 39% who favored it.)

And as taxes rise to subsidize higher health-care premiums, the program’s unpopularity is likely to grow. The White House and Democrats in Congress don’t seem to care what the polls show, but attitudes toward ObamaCare could bode ill for passing any immigration reform that includes legalizing the undocumented or lifting immigrant quotas to reduce pressure on the border.

Belief in social mobility has informed welfare and immigration policy from colonial times. In 1645 the Massachusetts Bay colony was already barring paupers. And in 1882, when Congress finally passed the country’s first major piece of immigration legislation, it specifically prohibited entry to “any person unable to take care of himself or herself without becoming a public charge.”

A problem that immigration reformers face is the public perception—fed by restrictionists and exacerbated during economic downturns—that the U.S. welfare state is already a magnet for poor immigrants in search of government assistance. It’s true that the U.S. attracts poor people, but it’s also true that they come here to work, not to go on the dole. We know this because the data consistently show that foreign nationals in the U.S. are more likely than natives to be employed and less likely than low-income natives to be receiving public benefits.

During the recent health-care debate, uninsured illegals were scapegoated for crowded emergency rooms and rising costs. In fact, the uninsured use the ER in rough proportion to their percentage of the population. It’s a myth that undocumented immigrants are driving U.S. heath-care costs.

Even Harvard economist George Borjas, a prominent immigration restrictionist, concedes that the welfare magnet argument for sealing the border can’t withstand scrutiny. “[T]here exists the possibility that welfare attracts persons who otherwise would not have migrated to the United States,” he writes in “Heaven’s Door,” his influential book on immigration policy. “Although this is the magnetic effect that comes up most often in the immigration debate, it is also the one for which there is no empirical support.”

While there’s no evidence that immigrants come here for public assistance, that could change as the U.S. welfare state grows. And one consequence could be less-welcoming immigration policies. The European experience is instructive.

In countries such as France, Italy and the Netherlands, excessively generous public benefits have lured poor migrants who tend to be heavy users of welfare and less likely than natives to join the work force. Milton Friedman famously remarked, “you can’t have free immigration and a welfare state.” There is a tipping point, even if the U.S. has yet to reach it.

Due to the growth of existing entitlement programs to accommodate retiring baby boomers, the U.S. welfare state was destined to expand even before ObamaCare’s excesses. And large-scale immigration reform this year was always a long shot with unemployment pushing 10% and midterm elections in November. But left-wing immigrant advocates should be mindful that the two issues aren’t unrelated.

Immigrants to the U.S. historically have been significant contributors to the growth and vitality of our labor force because the vast majority come for the right reasons. Don’t change the incentives.

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A one-man crimewave from Algeria who has twice been deported from Britain is facing jail after being arrested near one of his favourite hunting grounds. To the Home Office’s huge embarrassment, prolific bag snatcher Hakim Benmakhlouf was detained by police at Heathrow Airport after slipping back into the country.

The father- of-two, who has a string of convictions for stealing from rich tourists at five- star hotels and airports, was confronted by officers after being spotted on CCTV.

The UK Border Agency is to launch an inquiry into how Benmakhlouf, who has 12 aliases, was able to make a mockery of Britain’s border controls yet again. The 28-year-old, was first thrown out in July 2007 when, while serving a three-and-a-half year prison sentence for theft, he was given £3,000 by the Government to be released early and fly home to his native Algeria.

But 24 hours later he returned to London on Eurostar to continue his extraordinary crime wave.

Benmakhlouf was re-arrested in April 2008 and jailed for three years the following month after admitting two thefts and asking for five similar offences to be taken into consideration. But he was released last March after serving just a third of his sentence and flown home again at taxpayers’ expense. And he is thought to have returned to London a few days later.

Detectives are furious at how Benmakhlouf, regarded as one of London’s most prolific bag snatchers, has made a laughing stock of the UK Border Agency. One said: ‘What’s the point of deporting someone if he can come back effortlessly just a few days later? For him, deportation orders are like a revolving door.’

Benmakhlouf was cornered in a car park at Heathrow Airport last Saturday. At Uxbridge Magistrates Court on Monday he admitted assault on police, breach of a deportation order and breach of an Anti-Social Behaviour Order. He will be sentenced on April 23.

The life and crimes of Benmakhlouf were laid bare at his May 2008 sentencing. Prosecutor Helen Thomas told Southwark Crown Court in London that Benmakhloufwas a ‘prolific thief ‘. ‘The defendant targets high class hotels or airports,’ she added.

A UK Border Agency spokesperson said: ‘We will look to remove this individual as soon as the judicial process is concluded. Those who come to the UK and break the rules will not be tolerated.’

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