Category Archives: Immigration

Imaginary Numbers for Imaginary Growth

I’m sorry but it’s time to type out, yet once more, how we calculate the annual growth rate for the real GDP, and no, there’s no imaginary quarterly or annualized growth rate for the real GDP.  Now that we’ve reviewed, the financial inanity of the current administration is highlighted by policies which are in direct variance with the stated goal of increased economic growth of 3%.

There are two numbers we absolutely need in order to have economic growth: Labor force increases; and, Labor Productivity increases.  The labor force is obvious, how many people of working age are in the workforce. Productivity pertains to how much can be produced by those workers.  For more information see this article from the St. Louis FED.  Suffice it to say that if the labor force growth is 0.5% and the productivity growth rate is o.5% then the economic growth rate will be 1%.

There are a couple of bits of Reality we need to introduce at this point in time: (1) The baby boom is over. (2) We are poised to severely limit our immigration.

As of 2015, the number of baby boomers ranges from 74.9 million to 82.3 million, depending on whether the generation begins with the birth year 1943 or 1946.” [CNN] No matter which year one assumes for the beginning, it was over by 1964-65.  Growth in the labor force has not, and may rationally not, increase at levels seen when the Boomers hit the job market. And, now they are exiting.  Those born in 1965 are now 52, with about 13 years left before retirement; those born during or before 1952 are presumably retired already. So, what is happening now?

“The US fertility rate has been in a steady decline since the post-World War II baby boom. Back at its height in 1957, the fertility rate was 122.9 births per 1,000 women. The latest quarterly CDC data also indicate the larger pattern of women having babies later in life. As birth rates increased among women in their 30s and 40s, the rate among teenagers and women in their 20s dropped.” [CNN]
The current rate is 59.8. There are factors associated with lower birth rates; for example, in developed nations urbanization is a factor — children aren’t a major need for their work in agricultural pursuits.  Another factor is the cost of raising the children, it’s more expensive to raise children in a developed country where those children don’t enter the labor force until they are in their late teens or twenties.  Further, the urbanization trend continues apace in the US. [Census] [Slate] More urbanization, more education, and we can’t reasonable expect a repetition of the Boom in the foreseeable future.
So, if we aren’t increasing our labor force via the old birth-rate route, then the other way is immigration, and this warning from the Los Angeles Times:

“Trump in his first weeks in office has launched the most dramatic effort in decades to reduce the country’s foreign-born population and set in motion what could become a generational shift in the ethnic makeup of the U.S. Trump and top aides have become increasingly public about their underlying pursuit, pointing to Europe as an example of what they believe is a dangerous path that Western nations have taken. Trump believes European governments have foolishly allowed Muslims with extreme views to settle in their countries, sowing seeds for unrest and recruitment by terrorist groups.”

This seems a polite way to say that the Trump administration would like very much to limit immigration to white Western Europeans. If we don’t allow immigration from Mexico and Central American nations, and we severely limit immigration from predominantly Muslim nations, then what’s left?

And, in terms of increasing the labor force, here’s where the policy and the reality clash. If we want an increase in the birth rate in order to increase our labor force, then the women having those babies are more likely to be foreign born immigrants to the US. [Pew]  We don’t get to have it both ways — limiting immigration both limits the number of people available for immediate employment, and the number of little people who will grow up to be a portion of our labor force. Once more with feeling, if we limit immigration we necessarily limit our economic growth.

One of the amazing things about conservative/trumpism ideology is the notion that elements diametrically opposed to one another may somehow be massaged by empty rhetoric into actuality.  Somehow, we are supposed to believe that we can have 3% economic growth while limiting our immigration unrealistically, and while continuing the urbanization of the country. Only in the fever swamp of right wing ethnocentric white supremacist thinking is this going to “happen.” And, the happen part is in quotation marks because this is Neverland.

So, no — we don’t get the deficit reduced by cutting taxes on corporations, millionaires, and billionaires. No, we don’t get a balanced budget by cutting non-defense discretionary spending, and NO we don’t get 3% economic growth by unrealistically impeding immigration.  2 + 2 does not equal 7.

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Filed under Economy, Immigration, Politics, Republicans

Ripped from a few Headlines: Friday Edition

If you haven’t already seen the New Yorker article concerning Trump, Putin, and what the Russians want…click immediately for some excellent reporting and analysis. Here’s a taste:

“The great fear is the neutering of NATO and the decoupling of America from European security. If that happens, it gives Putin all kinds of opportunities. If Trump steps back the way he seemed to as a candidate, you might not even need to do things like invade the Baltic states. You can just dominate them anyway. You’re beginning to see the collapse of institutions built to insure our security. And if that happens you will see the re-nationalizing of Europe as a whole.”


If anyone is counting, and they are, there have now been THREE Jewish cemeteries vandalized within the last few weeks, St. Louis, Philadelphia, and Rochester, NY. And then there are the bomb threats to Jewish community centers.

“In all, 48 JCCs in 26 states and one Canadian province received nearly 60 bomb threats during January, according to the JCCA, an association of JCCs. Most were made in rapid succession on three days: January 9, 18 and 31. A number of JCCs, including Orlando’s, received multiple threats. On February 20, another wave of bomb threats hit 11 JCCs across the country, bringing the total to 68 incidents targeting 53 JCCs, according to the JCCA.” [CNN]

It would appear that while most people are protesting immigration related raids, Muslim travel bans, and assorted Trumpian outrages, others are taking the opportunity to express their antisemiticism, racism, and bigotry.


Meanwhile in the last two months four mosques have been attacked by arsonists.  The Oval Office remains silent:

“The press has certainly covered Trump’s attitudes—and those of his top advisors—toward Islam, particularly since he announced a ban on travel from seven majority-Muslim nations on January 27. But attacks on American mosques have received far less attention than the bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers. As far as I’m aware, no reporter has asked Trump about them at a press conference. And no major network would suggest that Trump’s failure “to adopt a stern, public line” against Islamophobia has been “politically damaging.”


Floating around in the Swamp, the Trumpster Regime — again (and again) says there was no connection between the campaign and Russian operatives. This, of course, goes nowhere toward explaining the contacts made by Paul Manafort, Carter Page, Jeff Sessions, Jared Kushner, Roger Stone, Rudy Giuliani, Michael Flynn, … and what names are to come?


The most bizarre explanation for opposing Motor Voter/automatic  registration in Nevada comes compliments of Nevada’s political gadfly and whack job Ira Hansen, did you miss this one?

“Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, was the most vocal opponent during the committee hearing and said it represented an overreach of people’s privacy, especially those who don’t want to partake in the electoral process.”

 

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Filed under Foreign Policy, Hate Crimes, Immigration, Nevada legislature, Nevada politics, Politics, racism, Voting, White Supremacists

Unfortunate Similarities

Scapegoating is never positive and never without antecedents. Why does this keep happening?  Perhaps because it’s convenient, and pen-ultimately selfish.

“Scapegoating removes us from one of our central ethical constructs, which is to see everything as part of a whole. When someone is scapegoated, we are denying this conceptualization in the service of identifying an easy target. Further, scapegoating can only occur when we turn a blind eye to complex power dynamics.” [TSW]

Thus, it’s likely no accident that divisive leadership both encourages and utilizes scapegoating as a means to its own ends.  The end, of course, is power.  A divided office, a divided state, a divided nation, is all the more susceptible to control if there is a degeneration of the ability to see “everything as part of a whole.” Those who use or accept scapegoating are loath to see a diverse American population as a positive amalgam of ethnic and gender groups, but as a collection of different populations some of which are not part of a common identity.  The results of group on group scapegoating in this context  are particularly pernicious:

“Groups chosen for scapegoating are also often in low-status positions due to the socio-economic structure of society, and also lack power and the ability to fight back against the scapegoating. It is common for scapegoating to grow out of common, widespread prejudices against and practices of stereotyping minority groups. Scapegoating of minority groups often leads to violence against the targeted groups, and in the most extreme cases, to genocide. All of which is to say, group-on-group scapegoating is a dangerous practice.” [Soc.]

We’re watching stereotyping, and scapegoating in the current administration.  If it’s the current administration’s intent to be transparent about their racism and bigotry they’re doing a fine job.  Two paragraphs from a highly recommended article by Heather Digby Parton provide a description of the parallels between the current administration and its antecedents:

“There are parallels to be found in U.S. history, with the marginalization of earlier waves of immigrants and our horrific scapegoating of African-Americans and Native Americans for crimes they didn’t commit. But the drawing up of lists of criminals of a certain ethnicity to publish for public consumption brings to mind the most famous scapegoating of a population in history. That would of course be the systematic persecution of the Jewish population of Europe during the Nazi era.

From the early 1930s onward, the pro-Nazi newspaper Der Sturmer published lists of crimes allegedly committed by Jews. When Adolf Hitler came to power the government took over the job in order to further stoke anti-Semitism. The point of Trump’s order is to stoke anti-immigrant paranoia, almost entirely directed at Latinos and Muslims. The parallel is ugly but it’s accurate.” [Salon]

Der Sturmer, a tabloid newspaper published by Julius Streicher beginning in 1923 carried a tag line at the bottom: “The Jews are our misfortune.”  The message was endlessly repeated by a newspaper which relied on rumor for its sources; readers were invited to fill out and send in cards in which the ‘crimes of the Jews’ were described, and the paper printed these tales with little or no investigation. It was enough to have fodder to feed the columns of print for antisemitic readers.  Therefore, those who find parallels in the administration’s desire to create an office of Victims of Immigrant Crime Engagement (VOICE, which could as easily be VICE) aren’t far from the mark.  The collection of ‘crime’ stories, and their compilation without regard to the citizenship status of “aliens,” is an open invitation to corrupt the commonality of American civic society.

Someone in this proposed office must be charged with defining an ‘alien,’ is it a first generation immigrant?  A permanent resident, a person with a green card, a person with a temporary visa? A naturalized citizen?  The definition is crucial, one of those devil in the details items warranting our scrutiny.

How will the ‘crime reports’ be compiled? From databases kept by local law enforcement personnel? From reports in local, regional, or national media?  From cards sent in by ‘concerned citizens?’  It’s interesting to note that while it’s a fact that immigrants commit fewer crimes (pdf) than native born citizens, our government prevents the compilation of gun violence statistics as a public health issue, a real national security and health problem, we are invited to compile ‘evidence’ of crimes committed by immigrants.

And, what is a ‘crime?’  Will the databases be filled with those who have entered the country without documents? Or, those who have overstayed visas? Those who have committed traffic offenses? Those who have sold items without collecting sales taxes? Those who have violated local sanitation ordinances?  If the practices of ICE and CBP of late are any indication, there’s little reason for confidence in their capacity to differentiate the serious from the quotidian from the downright ludicrous. How will violations of their enforcement operations be recorded. And, what determines inclusion in the database — must there be a conviction for a crime, or will a simple arrest suffice to include the individuals in the database, even if the charges are dropped or the individuals found innocent?

If the intent is merely to collect and publish anecdotal information about the “misfortune in our midst,” then there is precious little difference between what Der Sturmer was doing in the 1930s and what the VOICE office will be doing in the 21st century?

Lest we not take ‘Digby’s’ warning seriously it’s instructive to note that in 1927 Streicher’s ugly little paper had a readership of 14,000 which increased to 486,000 by 1935. By 1938 the paper shifted from calling out the evils of the ‘misfortune among us’ to actively advocating the annihilation of Jews. On January 20, 1942 the Nazis held their infamous Wannsee Conference.

More disturbing still is the current administration’s emphasis on stereotyping and Muslims, to the detriment of the consideration of crimes committed by white nationalist domestic terrorists.  [ Reuters]  The former serves as a convenient scapegoat, the latter is an actual source of serious criminal behaviors. [HuffPo]  Evidently contemporary Republicans are incapable of saying “Radical White Supremacist Terrorism.”

So long as we have White Nationalists and racists like Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller holding forth in the White House, with the ear of the chief executive, there is ample cause for concern.  More than enough reason to say Never Again. More than enough to read ‘Digby’s’ article a second time.

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Filed under Immigration, Nativism, Politics, racism

Respect Must Be Earned: ICE and CBP aren’t helping themselves

Law enforcement isn’t an easy job, not that it’s one of the most dangerous, it isn’t. The most dangerous job is logging, followed by commercial fishing, law enforcement ranks 15th on the list.  However, it’s not high on the popularity list in some quarters, and actions by ICE and the CBP aren’t helping.

Daniela Vargas was 7 years old when her family came from Argentina. That makes her a Dreamer, and supposedly protected from deportation under the current administration’s directives.  Her status, with a renewal application pending, should have been safe, but it wasn’t because she spoke out and was immediately detained by ICE for a “visa overstay.”

Sara Beltran Hernandez a 26 year old asylum seeker from El Salvador has been in detention for about 450 days, on February 10 she collapsed and was diagnosed with a brain tumor. [LAT] Report vary about the conditions under which she was held and her access to legal representation and family support. However, no one is disputing that she was shackled at one point until medical staff ask that the restraints be removed so her medical needs could be addressed.

Muhammad Ali Jr. was detained at a Florida airport by agents who asked him about his religion.  Ali, who was born in Philadelphia, was asked “How did you get your name?” The most obvious answer would be that he happened to be the son of Muhammad Ali, and American icon.  An American man, traveling with his American passport is detained by immigration agents?  Worse still, he’s asked about his religion. The agency denied he was detained because of his religion, but what else could it be?  Unless, of course, we’re going to start detaining and questioning all black travelers coming to America, or coming back to America?

Henry Rousso, born in Egypt, one of the pre-eminent scholars of the Holocaust was detained for almost ten hours and threatened with deportation by agents in Houston, TX.  The Houston CBP agents didn’t appear to understand that those academics who are paid a stipend to speak to conferences such as the one organized by Texas A&M, are allowed to travel on a tourist visa. The agents were described as “inexperienced”and Texas A&M officials were successful in providing the “inexperienced” ones with some on the job training.

Passengers on a domestic Delta Airlines flight were delayed at JFK airport on February 22nd, when CPB and ICE agents decided to check the identification of all passengers on the flight while looking for an individual — who was not on the flight.

All five of these incidents do not place either ICE or CBP in a kindly light as protectors of our national security.  In none of these incidents were any “bad hombres” detained and deported, not one.  What they do seem to indicate is that agents are insufficiently trained, questionably supervised, and now endowed with a sense of their own authority, sufficient to constitute a danger to our Constitution and the safety of our citizens.

If ICE and CBP agents want our respect they must do a better job of earning it.

 

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Filed under Human Rights, Immigration, Politics

Monday Morning and The Press

There are several things of note this morning, probably the least important of which is the Blunder at the Oscars, although that’s one of the more entertaining.  Added to this is the current administration’s rather bombastic squabble with the press, however, this too is of more interest to the media itself than an actual matter of national interest.  In fact, some of the best political reporting is that which is done outside the confines of news conference spin sessions.   For example, in 1902-03 Ida Tarbell didn’t need to attend press conferences to expose the machinations of John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil. Nor did Upton Sinclair need a gaggle to write about the meatpacking industry in 1906.  In 1953 reporter Murrey Marder followed the serpentine trail of Senator Joe McCarthy and helped expose the duplicity of the Senator’s charges against the Army. Surely, the administration wasn’t applauding David Halberstam’s coverage of the war in Vietnam. Woodward and Bernstein weren’t following White House press gaggle threads to uncover the Watergate story, nor was Dana Priest relying on press releases about black sites in eastern European countries, or when she revealed conditions at Walter Reed Hospital.

In short, some of the very best reporting has resulted from investigations outside the walls of various and sundry executive offices.  There are stories still unfolding which may have an extraordinary effect on American politics and governance, and the information essential to their explication won’t come from anyone’s gaggle, no matter who is invited.

Suggestions?

#1. The Trump Russian connections.  As the Boston Globe opined:

“The issues raised by Trump’s Russia connection are some of the most serious that this country has ever confronted. We could have a president who is vulnerable to blackmail from Moscow and even worse, one who has committed treasonous offenses. As long as these questions go unanswered there will be a permanent black cloud over the White House — and the country.”

We could have a president subject to blackmail? We could have a president whose financial ties to Russian interests impact his decision making? We could have an administration so entangled with Russian financial and political entities that we have allowed an infringement on our own sovereignty?  Investigative journalism is necessary if we are to avoid that “permanent black cloud.”

#2. The rise of white nationalism/supremacism and the nature of Antisemitic acts and the assaults on Muslims and their mosques. If anything tears at the fabric of American civic life it’s the demonization of ethnic and religious minorities, and the tacit support for the demeaning and desecration of religious institutions.  No, the conservative white Christian establishment is not under “attack.” However, synagogues, mosques, and cemeteries  definitely and physically are.  Does the current administration bear some responsibility for emboldening the hateful people who commit these acts?  What steps must the federal government take to discredit and diminish the organizations which seek to perpetrate them?  We know a great deal about the membership, publications, and activities of these organizations, however we’re missing more essential writing on the impact these groups have in terms of radicalizing white nationalists. What motivated the current administration to shift law enforcement focus away from domestic terrorists and pay almost exclusive attention to foreign sources?  We may think we know the answers, but more reporting would be extremely useful.

#3. The impact of anti-immigrant fervor on American economic growth.  As noted in a previous post, the anti-immigrant plus anti-Muslim posture of the current administration could have significant effects on the tourism, agriculture, housing, and food service sectors. It’s going to take some research and analysis from business reporters to fully understand the impact of this posture on our economy.

#4. The assault on the institutions of democracy by those who promote vote suppression and gerrymandering.  Again, we have had more than enough examples of the blatant attempts to restrict the Right To Vote. The story is NOT about vote fraud, it’s about the fraudulent attempts to prevent people from voting.  The story is about a nationwide attempt, to deliberately freeze out qualified voters, eliminate them from the rolls, and prevent them from voting in convenient polling places, by a national political party and its myrmidons.

I need to immediately acknowledge that my list may not be everyone else’s list, and that I’ve left out topics like women’s reproductive health issues, health care access. and climate change, but there’s always room for MORE investigative journalism and more topics of national and international interest. Indeed, investigative journalists could turn the “tennis ball machine” back on the White House, and give the Oval Office a daily dose of its own distraction.  After all, a good offense is often a good defense.  Every session in which the administration has to justify its ties to Putin, has to explain the rise of white supremacists, has to speak to the economic impact of anti-immigrant policies, has to find ways to excuse vote suppression, is a session in which it has less opportunity to promote the Trickle Down Hoax and its embrace of Wall Street.  For that matter, why not add in more reporting about the administration’s efforts to promote Wall Street interests at the expense of Main Street?

Politics is, indeed, a contact sport and the sooner this administration finds out the truth of that old saw the better.

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Filed under Economy, financial regulation, Immigration, Islam, Nativism, Politics, racism, Republicans, Vote Suppression

The One Thing Trump Won’t Put His Name On?

Let’s guess that the one thing the current occupant of the White House won’t put his name on is an apology. Here’s a template in case he’s harboring any transient desire to do so:

“My fellow Americans  I want to tell you how sorry I am that there are among us people who feel emboldened to act in ways that cause immeasurable pain to their fellow human beings.

They are the ones who have now vandalized not one but two Jewish Cemeteries, one in suburban St. Louis and another in Philadelphia. They are the ones who have burned a mosque in Victoria, Texas, and the ones who attacked a gay couple in Key West, Florida. They have created 917 hate groups in this nation. They have acted on their hate, and now Indian Americans in Kansas have felt the pain of their assaults.

They have internalized the messages from hate radio broadcasts, incorporating the demonization of Muslims, Jews, Immigrants, and women’s health providers into their daily thinking.  They are wrong. They are unworthy of our sympathy. They are cancerous intrusions into our civic discourse.

People who hold the despicable thoughts that drive these despicable actions should never be comfortable voicing their disrespect for their fellow human beings.  When they rant at the dinner table that “they” are responsible for all the ills of the nation, they should be challenged.  When they propose that the US would be a better place without immigrants they should be challenged. When they use abusive slang and epithets to describe other people they should be reminded that they are in polite society. When they brag about abusing members of minority groups and women they should hear from the righteous among us that this is completely and totally unacceptable.

When they voice support for the hateful actions of others they should be placed on notice that enabling or encouraging hate crimes and incidents is properly categorized as being an accomplice.  When their voices promote hatefulness and violence, our voices should call for tolerance and empathy. When their voices rasp with vile epithets and slogans, ours should call for civility and understanding.  Their voices must be challenged. Right here. Right now.”

Now, I wonder if the president would like to put his name to this template?

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Filed under civil liberties, Hate Crimes, Immigration, Politics, racism

Gung Ho Isn’t Always The Way To Go

So, some ICE agents are saying that under the slackening of requirements for detentions the job is fun again?  This raises some serious questions about law enforcement in this country, the most significant of which may be: Is a person innocent until proven guilty? Or, is an immigrant guilty until he or she can “show papers?” There’s a related tangential question as well: Do we detain individuals on a selective basis, or do we round up greater numbers and risk “collateral” damage to those who have committed no felonious acts?

The Obama Administration focused on arresting, detaining, and deporting the very individuals the current administration says it is focused on — criminals engaged in felonious activities.  However, the “unshackling” appears to have emboldened some agents to engage in behaviors that sound more like the directive given by Arnaud Almaric, “Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.” (Kill them all; let God sort them out.)

The anti-immigration rejoinder is often “they’ve all broken the law by being here,” and “we’re just enforcing what is already on the books.”  These generalities require closer inspection.  The first offense under 8 US Code 1325 is a misdemeanor, punishable by a possible jail sentence of less than one year.  It is not until there is  subsequent unlawful entry that the punishment reaches felony level.  Some of the more vocal anti-immigrant voices may want to refer to 8 US Code 1227 which outlines deport-able offenses. In light of at least one recent detention, it should be noted that there are waiver provisions for victims of domestic violence. Thus, the current administration has a decision to make.

Is it the policy of the administration to round up and deport all those who are not authorized to be in this country? Or, is it the policy to detain and deport those who have committed felonious acts while residing here without authorization?  The actions of ICE agents seem to reflect the former, while the words coming our of the White House appear to be consistent with the latter.

Removing the “bad dudes” from our midst doesn’t look all that compatible with reports of:

  • ICE agents removing a Salvadoran brain tumor victim from a hospital and placing her in detention.
  • ICE agents detaining a victim of domestic violence who had gone to court to seek assistance, on a tip possibly coming from her abuser.

What is different from the enforcement procedures of the Obama Administration is that these incidents are more likely to occur because the requests for “collateral” arrests from ICE agents is now closer to being standard operating procedure. A 2011 memorandum restrains agents from making arrests in sensitive areas — churches, schools, etc. But, the problem, of course, is that under current guidelines ICE could use those areas as targets, lending unwarranted credence to the rumor mills.  Coordinated raids and collateral arrests are not something commonly witnessed during the Obama Administration, while the current administration could likely to utilize those processes.

Collateral arrests create collateral damage.  Some rumors of detentions at schools or other public places proved to be incorrect, but the more the agency uses large scale raids and arrests ‘collateral’ suspects, the less cooperation there is likely to be from members of the community when it comes to detaining and deporting those truly worthy of being deported.

A second unfortunate prospect is that local police forces, already stretched and strained by hiring limitations imposed by budget restraints, will find themselves asked to play additional roles in federal enforcement, adding logistical issues to the possibility of less local community cooperation on other matters.

Until there is more clarity, and far less bombast, from the administration on the extent and justification for collateral arrests the situation may continue to be ripe for rumor mills, and fears among immigrant communities that “papers please” will be injudiciously applied to anyone fitting a “profile” including legal residents and US citizens.

Collateral arrests may also have unintended economic consequences, in agriculture, in tourism, in restaurants, and in real estate. In short, the old saw “Be Careful What You Wish For” may be applicable in this instance.  Short term gains for political grandstanding purposes could transform into long term losses for several sectors of the US economy.

Gung Ho may be popular with some rank and file ICE employees, but it may very well prove to be the sort of gloss that corrodes the underlying credibility of the agency in the long run.  There need to be some adults in the room as we have this discussion, some adults who can reach compromise positions on comprehensive immigration policy reform, and can curtail some of the excesses of the advocates for collateral arrests.

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Filed under Immigration, Politics