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May 31, 2007

Comments

"No one is being deported; laws aren't being enforced; and the border wall is little more than a bad joke, which everyone loves to talk about but no one will pay for."

I keep seeing rightwing folks explaining that sealing off the border so it is effectively impenetrable to illegaly entry is absolutely key to our national security.

Has anyone actually done a study estimating what the costs of actually fencing off all of our borders (sea access included) would be? Or even just what sealing off only the Mexican-U.S. border completely would cost?

Because I have to say that I start from a position of skepticism as to whether that's a remotely sane, or even possible, priority, given the length of our borders, and the fact that if you don't seal them all, you're, ah, leaving a lot of openings, thus leaving open the question of how much good it does at all to go much beyond the current physical status quo.

Has anyone actually done a study estimating what the costs of actually fencing off all of our borders (sea access included) would be? Or even just what sealing off only the Mexican-U.S. border completely would cost?

So far as I know, no.

People are still being deported. A recent raid in Massachusetts rounded up several hundred Hispanics in a factory making outfits for the Army. Many presumptive illegals were shipped immediately to Texas, separating a nursing mother from her infant. (The child wound up on an IV.) Other mothers were parted from very small children, who with the trauma, refused to eat.

"So far as I know, no."

Would you agree that it might be a good question to get answered before those folks who advocate that "solution" (which I know does not include you) advocate it?

i'll say it again:

i'll take the right wing's complaint about "the laws aren't being enforced" seriously the day i see armed posses partrolling in front of bars, waiting for people too drunk to drive getting in their cars; or when there are crowds of angry white men camping out making sure that no illegals are building houses in my neighborhood; or when the fncking GOP footsoldires stand up and say "hey, did Bush really violate FISA?"

until then, it's just a hollow talking point.

Plenty of people are being deported. Plenty more aren't. It's possible to stay here illegally for years without much difficulty; it's also possible to be screwed over by the immigration system. Harsh, punitive laws + lack of political will to fully fund and enforce them = totally arbitrary results. The House solution last year was to make the laws even harsher and more punitive and farther from what we're actually willing to enforce. Frankly, I've never seen anything that looks to me like a proposal for immigration laws that we were actually willing & able to enforce fully (both as far as the monetary cost & the human cost of deportations) going forward. I would guess that full, deport-everyone-here-illegally enforcement of the current laws would spectacularly flunk a cost benefit analysis, but I don't really have a way of proving that.

"I would guess that full, deport-everyone-here-illegally enforcement of the current laws would spectacularly flunk a cost benefit analysis, but I don't really have a way of proving that."

Even George W. Bush keeps explaining that that's an impossible notion, as well as an inhumane one. Even G. W. Bush!

Which is why I find all the talk from even sensible conservatives (not Von) about "sealing the border" so peculiar. Either it's a realistic notion, or it isn't.

More than 40% of the people here illegally come here on work visas and overstay them, but we don't track them. Anyone wonder why that happens? Anyone wonder why there aren't more resources going to whatever the INS is called these days? The answer is simple--this is all a big show that's not meant to actually do anything.

If you want to clamp down on illegal immigration, a fence isn't the way to do it. Financial death penalties on companies that knowingly hire undocumented workers combined with resources to track work visas and make sure we know where those people are will do far more than this or any other immigration bill will do.

But to do that, you have to take on big business, the people who are hiring these undocumented workers, and no one wants to actually do that. The business of the US, after all, is still business. I just wish someone would be open about it.

I don't advocate sealing the borders, either. And the fence? I put a wood fence in my backyard for something like $15 a foot, installed. I'd guess a decent chainlink or other sturdyish construct would be upwards of $50 a foot, or about $150k a mile. I'd say to do it right, it's going to be at least double that.

In any event, hundreds of millions of dollars just to put it in; that's not counting land acquisiton and prep. Or surveillance cameras and patrols.

You have no idea how much I will be tempted to go to the border just to climb that fence. It's what comes of being in touch with the child within, and all that.

I should add to my above post that I'm fully in favor of giving citizenship to those people here who have been working and paying taxes and obeying the rest of the laws. My point is that the wall is all show--it's the pledge of the magic trick. Problem is, there's no prestige, and so it'll fall flat.

Frankly, enhancing the government's domestic-surveillance capabilities doesn't sound like a great idea to me, either.

"I'd guess a decent chainlink or other sturdyish construct would be upwards of $50 a foot, or about $150k a mile. I'd say to do it right, it's going to be at least double that."

Slart, a fence like that would be completely useless, by itself, as an attempt to "seal" anything, given that it's child's play to either scale or pull down or dig under that kind of fence, if you have a little time.

The only kind of effective "fence" would be the sort of whole series of fences, integrated with cameras and sensors and alarms, all sturdy enough to be undefeatable and impenetrable during the time it would reasonably take a patrol to realistically get there. The sort of system a maximum security prison has, rather than a minimum security prison.

All of this across all our borders of course, and presumably including the sea borders/shore, as well.

But even for just a few miles stretch, that sort of thing costs millions. A "decent chainlink" isn't even a joke. Or were you making a joke that went over my head?

"In any event, hundreds of millions of dollars just to put it in; that's not counting land acquisiton and prep. Or surveillance cameras and patrols."

Yeah, but not "hundreds of millions" for even just the entire Mexican-American border; "hundreds of millions" for only a couple of hundred miles, out of 1951 miles (3141 km), I suspect. The entire border would, I would think, cost billions -- though as I said, I'd like to see a real study -- let alone that that would still leave our sea borders, and the Canadian border, unsealed from Teh Terrorists. Which wouldn't seem therefore to do very much to keep out Teh Terrorists. (Not that you're arguing with me; I'm just still arguing with the "seal the border" people who so far aren't around here. :-))

Hm, one could put all the poisonous waste that usually is exported to poor African countries along the border instead and lay a few billion landmines (about 3$ per piece). This policy could be sold as a stimulus to the war economy and a final solution to the waste problem. Also a way to get rid of all that rotting mustard that we can't sell to Saddam anymore. [/snark]

Even totalitarian states like North Korea or the former GDR are/were unable to "secure" their borders effectively and those borders are/were a good deal shorter (or look at Iraq right now).

In practice, it is not necessary to raise a death-zone on the border to make it impassable. Remember, most of the Mexican border is uninhabited desert. Fences are only needed in the areas with inhabitation or roads. Elsewhere, a well-patrolled zone of no entry along the border is enough.

In my native country, Finland, we have a zone of 3-5 km along the border. No one but the border guards, members of parliament, and the local inhabitants is allowed inside. Everyone there (including the domestic guests of the inhabitants) is liable to present a special border permit and a photo ID and the patrols actually stop people to ask them for it. On the other side of the border, the Russians enforce a similar zone, but it's 50 km wide and has no inhabitants but the border guards.

The point in the border control is to make sure that there are very few people close to the border with legal business.

The problem would be San Diego where the dwellings extend all the way to the border, of course. There, I would suggest razing part of the suburbs and moving the inhabitants further away from the border.

Tsk, Lurker, your coastal biases are showing. Consider El Paso/Juarez; it's one area, including the downtown, separated by the Rio Grande. I've driven through it and been very nervous I'd turn on the wrong street and be in Mexico before I knew it. It's not just suburbs that would need to be relocated...

A back of the envelope calculation, assuming that we built a fence comparable to Israel's border fence, a concrete barrier with sensors, is quite easy to do.

About 2000 kilometers of border with Mexico.
About $1 million per kilometer.
Thus, about $2 billion dollars.

Sounds like a lot until you realize that our defense budget is about $400 billion. So, we're talking half a percent of one year's defense spending. There may be sensible objections to a border fence, but "we can't afford it" isn't one of them.

Current spending to enforce our immigration laws doesn't amount to rounding errors in the federal budget.

A back of the envelope calculation, assuming that we built a fence comparable to Israel's border fence, a concrete barrier with sensors, is quite easy to do.

and what considerations will your fence make for migratory wildlife ?

Republican donors are not at all happy about the proposed bill, or with Bush - donations off 40% over it (denied by RNC spokesperson).

War, surge – whatever. Amnesty though? No more money for you!

and what considerations will your fence make for migratory wildlife ?

The birds will appreciate their shiny new roosts. We'll have set up shuttle buses for the land-bound critters.

And each animal will have its own photo ID with pawprint and retinal scan.

Gary, I ought to have pointed out that I was really just putting a lower limit on cost. Yes, you really need to have a fence with a substantial belowground extent, which means concrete footers that go deep, which means mucho dinero. Anyone who's ever priced a driveway knows that 4-6" thick concrete costs as much per square foot as carpet, approximately. Being generous at 6", poured concrete costs about 4 bucks a cubic foot. You're going to want to go down below any tunnel you could dig with hand tools; I'm guessing 6-8 feet, and you'd need at least a foot of thickness, and then you'd need rebar, some fairly extensive digging operations, and (as you say) you probably want to put in at least two of them.

Various places around the internet estimate a yard of concrete, installed as footer, at about $150. That puts our footer price at about $50 a linear foot, not including forms and rebar. So let's double it, and add on another $50 a foot for the aboveground portion; that gets you perhaps a 10' tall wall topped with concertina wire...I think we're up to more like $60-$70 a linear foot if you use cement block, rebarred and poured. Assembled, more like $100. If you use cheap Mexican labor, that is. So, we're talking something in excess of $150 a linear foot; double that for two walls and you've got $300 a foot. That's just construction costs. The contractor for this effort is going to tack on another 10% (minumum) plus overhead costs, which I'm not going to even bother factoring in. And now we're up to a million dollars a mile, and I think Gary's figure of billions is easily within reach. Even that assumes that there's some sort of magical, mass-production approach to digging the wall foundations and laying in the forms for the footers. Of course, we're completely hand-waving a lot of the man-labor cost, too. If you do it using a bunch of guys with backhoes, you're going to progress at about 100 feet a day per backhoe, or about six miles a year. Which is not the way these things are done, typically. Or, I should say, hopefully.

Not that you'd use concrete block; that'd be far too slow. You'd just do reinforced concrete, possibly prefab.

Anyway, just an elaborate way of saying: Gary is right, it'll cost billions of dollars at a minimum. Let's call it a few B-2 bombers.

Oh, we CAN afford enforcement. If we can afford the war on Iraq we can afford just about anything. But for whatever reason it never seems to get fully funded. Even the immigration hawks are only willing to shell out $ for fences, border patrol agents, and prisons, but not, say, to do anything about the fact that we have 230-odd immigration judges who are supposed to sign off on every deportation in America other than an "expedited removal" of someone caught at a border or port of entry. Let's see, 12 million divided by 230 = 52174 cases per judge. Let's say you deal with an average of 3 a day per judge (the current goal--but one that it is only possible to ever meet because of the number of people who no-show for their hearings & get ordered deported in absentia). Okay, so that leaves 17391 work days per judge, divided by approximately 240 work days per year per federal employee, equals....72 years per judge to deal with the backlog of cases if immigration services rounded up everyone tomorrow..

Also note that even maintaining the current pace of deportation has led to huge problems with the quality of decisions at the immigration courts.

I harp on this side of it because it's what I know. I don't doubt that other parts of the system are just as screwed up.

If the United States wants enforceable borders, it needs enforceable laws. That means, reasonable fees for prospective immigrants, reasonable annual limits on immigrants, and an admission that the '86 law was a joke. As with all of our other failures to get human nature to change (see failed wars on drugs, sex, etc.), the first step to success is an admission of failure. We cannot keep people from coming to America if they really want to.

Practically, that means:

  • Amnesty for all who are here without proper paperwork, with modest fines, if any, but only if we also fine the businesses and people who hired them.
  • Affordable work visas -- there is no reason to keep the criminals who are creating fraudulent paper in business.
  • Realistic immigration targets -- clear up the backlog in five years and have no waiting list after that. Our immigration rate will probably be about 1% of our population per annum.
  • Serious efforts to help other countries so we don't end up with a lot of economic refugees. I like immigrants, but I don't want people to feel that they have to come here because their country is collapsing. We don't need more irredentista on the Cuban model, sitting around waiting for their evil jefe to die.

OT: I'll be away for the weekend, meeting my first ever niece. Have fun!

Hey, that IS good niece! Congrats!

Anyone else seeing the weird red-and-blue links in the Kaus blockquotes? Que pasa?

HTML formatting, ANderson.

Right-click, then select "view source".

Congrats to von for putting OW at the top of the Google search list for Jimmmy Nada. Musta been that third "m".

The whole point of comprehensive reform is to replace the current lawlessness -- anarchy in some places -- with laws that can be enforced:

Anarchy? I'd say that's a bit of hyperbole.

Are you referring to the border towns/areas?

Whoops, Slarti, it's corrected now.

Anarchy? I'd say that's a bit of hyperbole.

I was told by a commentator that I was so-measured-as-to-be-confusing in my last post, so I decided to go the opposite route.

The fundamental problem here is that any immigration law has to be a compromise, and the most fundamental requirement for compromise, trust, is gone.

20 years of willful refusal to enforce existing law has made it painfully clear that it doesn't matter what laws are passed, the political establishment will enforce the parts they like, and leave unenforced the parts they don't like. Compromise thus loses the opponents of illegal immigration whatever concessions they might make, and they won't actually get anything in return for the concessions.

Until a serious effort is made to enforce existing law, there's simply no reason for opponents of immigration "reform" to agree to anything, anything at all. Under the circumstances, the status quo, lack of enforcement, massive illegal immigration, and all, IS superior to any possible legislative change... Because it can only be change for the worse.

That's a very interesting point, Brett. It makes a lot of sense to me.

My primary question is, what's the actual meat behind the idea of "just enforce the law"? How do we do this? I hear a lot of people say "punish the employers," but it mostly seems like a Democratic taunt to me ("ha! you Republicans won't dare piss off your big-money donors!"). If it were possible to win elective office in this country on a platform of "I'm going to punish the employers," you'd think it would have happened by now. But even though 100% of blog commentors seem to take this position, the politicians simply aren't being elected?

Or what's the alternative? Build the border fence, which strikes me as a boondoggle? Double the border patrol? ("Why not triple it?" asks Jimmy Smits.) People seem to talk very glibly about "simply enforcing the law" when it actually doesn't strike me as that simple at all.

"Until a serious effort is made to enforce existing law"

But as has been pointed out, most of the "serious" efforts it would take to "enforce existing law" in the way most of the folks upset by illegal immigration desire are either physically impossible (seal off our borders) or are kinda lunatic (let's round up millions of people in some kind of super-Gestapo action).

What's the actual, doable, affordable, proposition that you want to see accomplished?

And would it include massive fines and criminal penalties, including jail terms, for employers of illegal immigrants, which is apt to be the most effective way to diminish illegal immigration? And why is it the Republican Party doesn't support that?

Digressing slightly, what I find kinda bitterly hilarious is this:

"One GOP activist and longtime ally of the White House, who declined to be named so as not to further inflame tensions with administration officials, tells Newsweek he was 'incensed' by Bush's comments Tuesday, particularly at a time when White House officials have been working to win support of people like him behind the scenes. '[The White House] has lost credibility with conservatives,' the activist told Newsweek. 'Their arrogance on this issue... it's just astounding. Their attitude is that if you disagree with them, you're wrong. It's just unbelievable.'"
Truly, unbelievable! Who could imagine the Bush Administration ever taking such an attitude towards anyone? Why, it's just unheard of! Precedent shattering! Earth-shaking! Stunning! Who could have seen it coming!? It's so unpredictable, so unforeseeable, so totally and completely an utterly shocking suprise!

It's so out of keeping with normal Bush administration practices! When have they ever taken this rhetorical and policy approach before? Didn't Vice-President Cheney set the tone at the beginning of the administration, with his openness to hearing from all parties, and considering their views, on the energy bill? Hasn't the White House consistently been a font of reaching out, and making sure that all points of view are considered? Have they ever before failed to be courteous and fair-minded?

Yes, it's so very unbelievable that they'd act in any way differently than this now.

I mean, to you.

A little late to complain, now that they've finally gotten around to you, buddy. You didn't complain when first they came for the liberal Republicans, and then they came for the moderate Republicans....

That lack of trust is entirely mutual. I see no evidence of any serious thought whatsoever by anti-immigration folks into minimizing the human costs and paying for the financial costs of 100% enforcement. Tancredo and Sensenbrenner don't pass well thought out funding and enforcement proposals; they try to make felons of 12 million people and everyone who provides them with food, shelter, or medical care.

In the abstract, it's reasonable to demand verification of increased enforcement against new arrivals before legalization of people already here illegally. In practice, immigrant advocates who accept a bill w/ legalization that only kicks in when someone certifies that the borders are secure are complete idiots. That certification will never come.

Harsh but underenforced laws aren't just a means of letting violators off the hook--they're also a means of transferring power from judges or juries to prosecutors and executive officials. It's not really that the federal gov't doesn't enforce parts of immigration law it "doesn't like"; it's that it only enforces certain parts of the laws against PEOPLE it doesn't like (or who happen to get caught up in the system--some of this is just sheer arbitrariness). Take a look at the Ashcroft-era DOJ's selective enforcement against people from Muslim countries after 9/11.

"But as has been pointed out, most of the "serious" efforts it would take to "enforce existing law" in the way most of the folks upset by illegal immigration desire are either physically impossible (seal off our borders) or are kinda lunatic (let's round up millions of people in some kind of super-Gestapo action)."

Who are ‘most of the folks upset by illegal immigration’ Gary?

Here in Los Angeles, most of the folks I know who are upset about it- are Democrats and Independents. None of them are lunatics. Most of them working people, of mixed ethnic and racial backgrounds: some third, fourth, and fifth generation Americans with surnames like Hernandez and Gonzalez – whose own children (now entering the work market) can’t find decent paying jobs because the flood of illegal workers has depressed wages and increased competition.

None of them, me included, want to round up millions of people in some kind of super-Gestapo action— (as intemperate a statement as those who call anti-war protesters traitors). What they want to do is staunch the gushing flow of illegals into our city, and if a fence helps accomplish it, most of us are for that. If fences (in concert with other technological devices) cuts down even half the flow of illegals into California, that would be a step in the right direction. If it was coupled with really stiff fines for business who hire illegals, and a tamper-proof national identity card, those would also be positive steps.

"I see no evidence of any serious thought whatsoever by anti-immigration folks into minimizing the human costs and paying for the financial costs of 100% enforcement."

It's not about 'anti-immigration' -- it's a discussion over what to do about 'illegal' immigration.

It's the same kind of distortion of terms that devolves into unfounded statements of racism against those of us who are against another round of amnesty.

Jay,

If you don't want to "round up millions of people," and you are against "another round of amnesty," what are you for with respect to the illegal immigrants already here?

I personally believe there are very strong humanitarian and practical arguments for legalization. I don't think a process that involves a huge fine can fairly be called amnesty. I don't think there is any realistic, sensible way to deport any significant number of the illegal immigrants.

And as far as the impact on the labor market is concerned, I think that legalization, because it would strengthen bargaining power, would improve conditions for workers competing with illegal immigrants for jobs, as well as reducing the immigrants' vulnerability to abuses.

Jay, if you're pulling out the "them illegals are taking our jobs" argument, then you are anti-immigration, not just anti the illegal kind, because that's the exact kind of economic illiteracy that informs that type of argument. Well, that and the very well founded charges of racism.

The whole illegal immigration brouhaha is all about the racism. Read the arguments and polemics from people in the forefront of the movement.

I feel bad for the honest people who've gotten caught up in this argument because they think it's about "the law". Like Gary mentions up thread, laws get broken every day. Heck, I break the law every day on my way to work, doing 65 in a 55 zone. What's worse, most people on the road are doing the same or worse. I don't see brave Minutemen out on there trying to quell the rampant anarchy on our nations highways. It ain't about the law, sunshine. It's about the racism.

Frankly, I find the illegal immigration nonsense tremendously overblown. Oh my goodness, poor people from Mexico are sneaking over the border so that they can work hard and make a better life for their families. How will America survive.

But if you're bound and determined to stop illegal immigration, here's a cheap and easy solution...increase the number of legal immigrants allowed in from Mexico. If we allowed in a hundred thousand or two hundred thousand people, the number of people sneaking across the border would decrease. Problem solved.

"Jay,
If you don't want to "round up millions of people," and you are against "another round of amnesty," what are you for with respect to the illegal immigrants already here?"

I want something in the middle—

First, put the horse before the cart.

No amnesty for anyone until:
(a) stiff penalty laws are in place for businesses that hire undocumented employees (not only corporations, but any and all businesses that hire them)
(b) reliable identity card are available
(c) enough resources are allocated to insure the border is controlled (not so that it’s ‘effectively impenetrable’ – but so that it effectively discourages the waves of people crossing it now)

Once that happens, I’d be in favor of allowing undocumented aliens who have been here five years or longer and haven’t committed a felony to stay, with the opportunity to become citizen’s down the road. For those here less than five years if they have minor children, the same rules as those here five years or longer. For the rest (unless there’s some really persuasive exception): bye bye. No one will have to be ‘round-up.’ If the stiff penalties are in place, and employers are reluctant to hire them, they’ll go home – here in L.A. and south to San Diego and most of the other U.S. border towns they do that all the time; cross the Mexican border to visit relatives and family. As far as penalizing them with fines, it’s a non-issue for me. Of course, if the money went directly to American working people in the trades that have seen wages suppressed by low wage illegals (construction, meat packing, etc), I’d be in favor of including it.

Last time around, when we went through this same Amnesty charade in the 1970s I was in favor of it – mouthing almost verbatim the same rationalizations for legalization that are current today: and in fact, back then, I was active as a fundraiser here in Southern California, and helped raise money for magazine and newspaper ads to push the legislation. Part of the spiel I used to get people to donate their money was that it was a one-time deal that would stop the flow of undocumented immigrants across the border from Mexico. We’d legalize them, and seal the border. Another talking point was that once they became legal they’d pay their fair share taxes for the public services they were consuming. As Yogi Berra said: déjà vu all over again. Of course all those rationalizations for amnesty turned out to be a lot of bee-ess. The number of illegals quadrupled, and those we gave amnesty to, and now their children, are still a drain on the economy here.

Of course what I‘d like to see isn’t going to happen. It’s all gong to be an exercise in futility. If we don’t shut down the borders, in two decades an additional 20 or 30 million or more will ‘migrate’ here. It may be good for them – better than were they come from – but it’s going to be just one more fisting for the American working class --

"(c) enough resources are allocated to insure the border is controlled (not so that it’s ‘effectively impenetrable’ – but so that it effectively discourages the waves of people crossing it now)"

Can you put an approximate number of some sort to what you regard as sufficient? Use whatever measure you like, so long as it gives as a useable result.

This whole problem would mostly go away if we worked out a deal where we annex mexico.

The southern border would then be a whole lot shorter.

And with so many poor hispanics being legal in the USA we'd adapt and the problem of illegals wouldn't be as big.

"Can you put an approximate number of some sort to what you regard as sufficient?"

Do you want me to include weights, heights, age and sexual orientation in the estimate?

Under the circumstances, the status quo, lack of enforcement, massive illegal immigration, and all, IS superior to any possible legislative change... Because it can only be change for the worse.

While I agree with the first part of your post, this doesn't make sense to me. What would constitute a change for the worse, and why would such necessarily be realized?

"Do you want me to include weights, heights, age and sexual orientation in the estimate?"

No.

Heck, I break the law every day on my way to work, doing 65 in a 55 zone. What's worse, most people on the road are doing the same or worse. I don't see brave Minutemen out on there trying to quell the rampant anarchy on our nations highways. It ain't about the law, sunshine. It's about the racism.

Quoted for truth.

People break laws every day--and that includes most of the people harping on the illegal immigration issue. Speeding, failing to signal, smoking in a prohibited area, copyright violations... make your own list.

This doesn't mean that people should be unconcerned about lawbreaking. But it does mean that what kind of lawbreaking they put the most energy into opposing speaks volumes about where their priorities are. If you crusade against drunk drivers, chances are you know someone who's been hurt by one. If you scream about lawless politicians right now, odds are good you don't like the current administration or the Republican party. If your hobby horse is domestic violence, it's a good bet that you or someone you love has been a victim of it.

But if the kind of lawbreaking that really gets your ire up is undocumented workers--which, in most cases, means Mexicans--then more likely than not you're a racist, whether you're aware of it or not. And if you're not one, then you need to think good and hard about the company you're keeping.

No amnesty for anyone until:
(a) stiff penalty laws are in place for businesses that hire undocumented employees (not only corporations, but any and all businesses that hire them)
(b) reliable identity card are available
(c) enough resources are allocated to insure the border is controlled (not so that it’s ‘effectively impenetrable’ – but so that it effectively discourages the waves of people crossing it now)

You are talking about a set of steps that would take years, and in fact might never be taken. What do you do in the interim?

those we gave amnesty to, and now their children, are still a drain on the economy here.

Do you have data to support this?

But if the kind of lawbreaking that really gets your ire up is undocumented workers--which, in most cases, means Mexicans--then more likely than not you're a racist, whether you're aware of it or not.

This is a joke, right?

I'm sure there are a few people who are just upset about undocumented workers on principle and don't care at all about the origin of the workers, but they happen to be making life easy for the racists who really are motivated by their hatred of people from Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia. So, you may not be a racist, but you are a fellow-traveler and, as your mother told you, you are judged by the company you keep.

"So, you may not be a racist, but you are a fellow-traveler and, as your mother told you, you are judged by the company you keep."

That's faulty logic. By that token, I can point out that there are those who support the mexican illegals because they support the reqonquista - Mexico taking back the southwest. So, you know, you are judged by the company you keep.

The Recnquista is a rightwing fanntasy, not a Mexican one.

I don't like the judging -by -association thing much. I just think that given global warming and other global environnmental issues , and the attempt by thhe Republican party leadership to subvert democracy and create a one party system here, that undocumentaed workers is a realitively trivial problem. It is also a classic righhtwing issue--relativley trivial, appealling to hhaters, and a way of getting voters without havinng to actaully present a plan for governing. Just the lastest Republican ploy, no different than red baiting, gay baiting, pretending to be pro-life or pro-family, or anny other false issue with negative emotional appeal that the right hhas used to sucker people into to voting for them.

http://www.panam.edu/orgs/MEChA/aztlan.html

I specially like Action #3:

"3. Self-Defense against the occupying forces of the oppressors at every school, every available man, woman, and child."

So, you see, Mecha supports the illegals, so if you suport the illegals, by (No) Free Lunch | June 02, 2007 at 11:44 AM logic, you suport Mecha.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIW-BZ8oLrk&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Eimmigrationwatchdog%2Ecom%2F%3Fpage%5Fid%3D810

Lovely. Let's use the association game now...

This is a joke, right?

No, it's not. If the shoe doesn't fit, I suggest you don't try so hard to wear it.

To clarify a bit why Stan's attacking a straw man, every one of his counter-arguments amounts to an attempt at guilt by association. That's not the argument I'm making--it's a case of drawing reasoned conclusions about people's motivations based on where they choose to devote their energies. There is a vast field of laws out there that are broken every day, by everyone including you. There are things in this country that kill millions of Americans and cause real harm to our economy. And if, out of all those possible sources of anarchy and death, you really get riled up about undocumented brown people* in this country, then yeah: you're a racist.

* If you disagree with this characterization, I invite you to name the last time you heard the anti-immigration crowd clamoring for a wall on the Canadian border, or raising a stink about the number of Japanese or British students overstaying their visas. It's about brown people, mostly from Mexico, and it has been for a long time.

Those damn Irish:

There are an estimated 50,000 Irish illegal immigrants in the U.S.; 30,000 of them are thought to live in New York City. Today, this tiny corner in the northern reaches of the Bronx is perhaps the most heavily Irish-born neighborhood in New York, and advocates believe that as many as 40% of local immigrants are undocumented.
I've known several Canadians who have lived and worked in the U.S. without work visas allowing them to legally stay or work, for that matter. Many Canadians illegals are also filthy criminals: have they been tested for leprosy?

Scary stuff.

Some interesting links here, by the bye.

Catsy,

There is a vast field of laws out there that are broken every day,

Yes, I saw the speeding analogy. The speed limit is being enforced. I don't now anybody who stopped for speeding and didn't get a ticket. Meanwhile, some cities are declaring themselves sanctuaries for the illegals??? wtf?

Accusing those who hold opposing views as being racist is an easy cop out. If you don't see factors other then race then you just might be race obsessed. First of all - the numbers. No doubt enforcement should be accross the board, but there are millions of illegal Mexicans in US, the number of Canadian/Japanese students? I highly doubt its anywhere close to that. Besides, it wouldn't make sense for students to overstay their visas as they wouldn't be able to get a decent paying job, where they can apply the skills acquired at school, without the proper paperwork. As for mexicans, I am sure you are aware that those are not college graduates that are running accross the border. They'll take anything. Besides, I wasn't aware that Japanese were white, or is there this new union between white racists and the Japanese?

No need to get race obsessed. We have millions and milions of illegals of a certain group who are *demanding* amnesty. What's more their gov't doesn't do anything to prevent them from coming here. In fact, its supporting it and even has the nerve to try to tell us what our immigration policy should be. Pretty easy to get riled up about that.

If you must call someone racist, then hey, why not point the finger at Vincente Fox. The man is not exactly brown and even has some german blood in him. I am sure you can conjure something up with that.

On a serious note, I believe the solution is to impose really stiff penalties on those who hire illegals. Of any color.

As a side note, any amnesty for the illegals is a huge slap in the face to all those who came here legally and waiting for years (sometimes close to a decade) for the process to take its course. And that includes me and my family.

Thanks for the links, Gary.

Too bad there aren't any open threads. OT: Soldiers and speech.

This agression will not stand, man!

Here's something interesting data:

According to a 2002 Zogby International poll[72] Asked whether they believe that "The territory of the United States' southwest rightfully belongs to Mexico"

* 58% of Mexicans agree with the statement
* 28% disagreed
* 14% said they weren't sure.

In the same poll[73], Asked whether they believe that "Mexicans should have the right to enter the U.S. without U.S. permission,"

* 57% of Mexicans agreed
* 35% disagreed
* 7% were unsure

In the 2001–2006 National Development Plan the Mexican Government says they want to support the 18 million Mexicans who live outside Mexico. There is no information on this report on the source of the data or on the number of those illegal aliens who live in the United States.[58]

some interesting data, that is. Ok, off to a bbq. Enjoy the weather, all.

"asked whether they believe that "The territory of the United States' southwest rightfully belongs to Mexico"

* 58% of Mexicans agree with the statement
* 28% disagreed
* 14% said they weren't sure.

Although I don't support giving back the land to Mexico, anyone with much knowledge of the Mexican-American War, and the process by which America conquered and took that land at gunpoint, would have trouble arguing that there's any injustice or lack of reason about this point of view, as an expression of an historic wrong, save from the POV that might makes right, and it was the destiny of the United States to conquer and take the land by force of arms.

As I said, that historical fact doesn't translate into a decision that returning the land now would be sound or sensible or sane policy, but it's no more ahistoric to note the history than it is to note that, hey, maybe the American Indians perhaps have a bit of a legitimate grievance about what once was their land, too.

As an abstract question, rather than as a question that implies a policy -- which would seem to be your clear implication, or else why care? -- the statement that "the territory of the United States' southwest rightfully belongs to Mexico" is an entirely defensible point of view of history. Just as is "The territory of the United States rightfully belongs to the American Indians."

So what? This history doesn't establish that there's a plot by Mexico to reconquer the territory. That notion is out there in pure kook land, you know.

But if you'd like to discuss the details of the Mexican-American War, that could be fun.

Noted leftist President Ulysses S. Grant:

Generally the officers of the army were indifferent whether the annexation was consummated or not; but not so all of them. For myself, I was bitterly opposed to the measure, and to this day regard the war, which resulted, as one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation. It was an instance of a republic following the bad example of European monarchies, in not considering justice in their desire to acquire additional territory.
U. S. Grant, Memoirs, On the annexation of Texas and the Mexican War

The occupation, separation and annexation were, from the inception of the movement to its final consummation, a conspiracy to acquire territory out of which slave states might be formed for the American Union.
Ulysses S. Grant, Memoirs, On the annexation of Texas

It is to the credit of the American nation, however, that after conquering Mexico, and while practically holding the country in our possession, so that we could have retained the whole of it, or made any terms we chose, we paid a round sum for the additional territory taken; more than it was worth, or was likely to be, to Mexico. To us it was an empire and of incalculable value; but it might have been obtained by other means. The Southern rebellion was largely the outgrowth of the Mexican war. Nations, like individuals, are punished for their transgressions. We got our punishment in the most sanguinary and expensive war of modern times.
Ulysses S. Grant, Memoirs

"In the 2001–2006 National Development Plan the Mexican Government says they want to support the 18 million Mexicans who live outside Mexico."

How alarming.

Enjoy the weather, all.

Smartest thing I have seen on a blog all day ;)

OCSteve--
don't you live in Maryland? If you have found a way of enjoying this fetid stew, please let me know.

-JakeB, sweat-pig of Philadelphia

Here in Japan, one of the (admittedly small in the scheme of things) problems is that foreigners working at universities are not given the same conditions as Japanese nationals. When you try and step Japanese faculty through the fact that this is problematic, and you end up saying 'if you do this, you are discriminating', they look shocked and say 'we can't be discriminating, because that's what bad people do and we aren't bad people'. Thus, I'm not really sure if attempting to identify some perceived deep seated intent in particular policies on a personal level as being very productive, though it may satisfy in some ways.

Also, I was trying to find the actual language (in Spanish) of the Zogby poll, and find out if the question about US permission implied visas in a way that contrasted with border policy with Canada. If anyone turns that up, could you post a link?

I don't now anybody who stopped for speeding and didn't get a ticket.

I have been stopped around four times for speeding in the last five years, three times in Virginia and once in Ohio, and didn't receive a ticket any of those four times.

Enjoy the weather, all.

Smartest thing I have seen on a blog all day ;)

Good thing I enjoy thunderstorms.

Though today doesn't compare to the vast hailstorm and flashflooding in the streets of a couple of days ago.

Otherewise, I'd be much happier if it didn't get any warmer than it is now, for the rest of the year. My top floor apartment, with skylights, and no air conditioning (it was advertised as with a/c, but this turned out to be untrue), turns into a furnace. (And the windows are such that an a/c doesn't fit; the stand-alone kind are too expensive.)

But that's me. I hate heat (which is pretty much anything over 65 F, in my book).

don't you live in Maryland? If you have found a way of enjoying this fetid stew, please let me know.

Fetid stew? We have just now had our first decent weather on the Eastern Shore this year. April and May are usually pretty nice, with at least half the days shirt sleeve weather. This spring was awful. Memorial Day weekend was the first decent weather, today there was a chilly wind. Tomorrow – Barry.

I’m tired of wearing a jacket out in June…

Phil,

I don't know what to say... You must have really big tits.

If the shoe doesn't fit, I suggest you don't try so hard to wear it.

I wish you better luck with this argument than I've enjoyed.

I guess "enjoyed" is not quite the right word, here, but I'm in a hurry.

No, Stan, being a male, I don't have breasts. Ask mommy and daddy to explain the difference between boys and girls to you sometime.

The point was that you were wrong. (Nothing new, just fun to point out.)

If it didn't hurt the environment, use lots of natural resources and be ludicrously expensive, my option would have been a flaming wall of burning gas instead of a security fence, from San Diego to Brownsville. Try crossing that.

I can't recall where I read this, but the feds did install some fencing in the San Diego area and it worked. The problem is that it wasn't long enough. Illegals could just go down the road a ways and cross elsewhere.

For purposes of getting an immigration bill, there is a substantial number of conservatives who want a fence (and more border agents and more monitoring) first, above all else. There is also a Secure Fence Act of 2006 which authorizes the construction of 700-plus miles of fence. The problem is that no money was attached to the bill, rendering it the Concept Fence Act of 2006.

There are a lot of conservatives who are extremely emotional about this issue, and quite a bit of it is fueled by talk radio. Every major talk show host is against it except Michael Medved. There's enough of a backlash out there that the bill may not happen. Not only that, Bush has pissed off enough conservatives that I doubt his approval ratings will ever get above 30%.

BTW, von, I agree with your take on the issue, but it looks like conservative opinions are so hardened that persuasion is unlikely. I still remain slightly in favor of the bill because no legislation means an undesirable status quo for years to come.

BTW, von, I agree with your take on the issue, but it looks like conservative opinions are so hardened that persuasion is unlikely. I still remain slightly in favor of the bill because no legislation means an undesirable status quo for years to come.

Frankly, and snide remarks aside, I'm growing ambivalent toward the bill. I support comprehensive reform, but see some problems with this bill (the Z-visas, in particular) and am not confident that it will pass in any kind of acceptable reform. My ding at Kaus (and the rest of the amnesty folks) is their assumption that anesty isn't occuring right now, and their unwillingness to actually put forward workable, viable ideas of their own.

It may be that the incremental approach is a better one.

"I can't recall where I read this, but the feds did install some fencing in the San Diego area and it worked. The problem is that it wasn't long enough. Illegals could just go down the road a ways and cross elsewhere."

That's a problem when one border is 1951 miles (3141 km) long, and 5061 kilometres (3145 miles) on another border. Then there are the sea borders. Southeast alone:

Because of the nearness to this country of the many islands in the Caribbean and around the tip of Florida, the coastal area is considered to be another border. This southeastern sea border extends 2057 miles along the Gulf and Florida coasts.
Total borders:
Land boundaries:
total: 12,034 km
border countries: Canada 8,893 km (including 2,477 km with Alaska), Mexico 3,141 km

Coastline: 19,924 km

Yeah, I know the figures don't match. Point is: long is long.

Leave a small part open, and that's where everyone goes. "Long enough" is a ways.

Crossing the British Columbia border is easy enough, it's just all woods. I imagine the Ontario/New York/Maine/Vermont border is just as much a deserted wilderness. So the migrant still has to hike out of the woods to start to getting where they are going.

"Although I don't support giving back the land to Mexico, anyone with much knowledge of the Mexican-American War, and the process by which America conquered and took that land at gunpoint..."


If anybody knows the history of California they know the land was wrested away by the Spanish from the indigenous Indian tribes by force of arms, at spear-point and sword-blade. During this confiscation they murdered or killed off by other means (like syphilis) about 3/4s of the native population, afterwards forcibly converting the rest, then using them for slave labor (who do you think dug the foundations and laid the stones for Junípero Serra’s missions? hint: it wasn’t the priests and grandees sent here to claim the land for Spain and the church). And of course California and the rest of what formally was “Mexican” territory was only Mexican territory for about 28 years -- between the time it seceded from Spain in 1821, then lost it after the Spanish American War, for which they were paid a fifteen million dollar settlement, per terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo as compensation for war-related damage to Mexican property .

At the time of the treaty, there probably were less Hispanic settlers throughout the entire southwest then you’ll presently find in the city of Santa Ana, CA. In fact the majority of Hispanics living in California prior the Spanish American War were ambivalent about their loyalties to Mexico (they hadn’t liked being a ‘colony’ of Spain; and the new Mexican government wasn’t proving much better). That’s why it’s not surprising that many prominent citizens sided with the Americans and did everything they could to aid them during the war.

On the right-wing racist use and propagation of the "Aztlan" myth, see Orcinus, although I realize some of you have problems with Dave Neiwert.

On the enforcement of anti-speeding legislation, the local News & Observer recently ran a lengthy and well-documented series last month, over about a week, which basically pointed out that there are almost NO serious consequences for speeding in North Carolina. [NB - the link is just to the paper; you'll have to search the site for the articles in question, I'm afraid.]

Apparently even if you get stopped for speeding (and everyone knows that's rare, with the average vehicle travelling at least 10-15 mph over the limit), if you have either a lawyer or any kind of nous you can bargain your ticket down to something that won't affect your license or insurance, by, e.g., claiming "equipment failure" (such as a broken speedometer, which you do not need to prove) again and again and again - one offender did so more than a dozen times - or coming up before the judge in Greensboro who released without penalty more than two-thirds of all those caught going over 100 mph! (Word of warning - just last week, embarrassed by this, the state legislature changed the "equipment failure" law, so please be ever-so-slightly cautious in driving down to visit me in Durham.)

IOW, yes, we can be judged by how seriously we enforce the laws - and at least in North Carolina, we don't take speeding seriously. (Or smoking - surprise, surprise!) Yet there are plenty of people here upset about immigration on the ostensible grounds of simple "illegality."

Stan: it wouldn't make sense for students to overstay their visas as they wouldn't be able to get a decent paying job, where they can apply the skills acquired at school, without the proper paperwork

Umm - perhaps you could explain this to them? To the hundreds and thousands of them now here, whose awareness of their own economic situation is apparently inferior to your insight as to what makes "sense" for them. Seriously - are you aware that more than half of the "illegals" in the United States actually entered the country legally?

Jay jerome,
I'm trying not to pile on here, but I don't think we (that pronoun chosen advisedly) have anything to say about Spanish 'wresting' the land from the Indian population, given our history in that regard. I'm not sure where the 3/4ths figure comes from, but your comment seems to imply that California was, by virtue of Spanish expansion, an unpopulated wilderness by the time we got around the Manifest Destiny-ing it. Things have been a bit heated around here of late, so please don't take my comment as a slam, but I do think the actual situation is that the US expansion is more responsible for drop off than Spanish expansion. I can provide sources if you like. Thanks and apologies in advance if this comment seems too sharp.

Jay Jerome: "If anybody knows the history of California"

It seems telling, Jay, that in response to points made about the formerly Mexican lands obtained by the U.S., you choose to pluck out only California to discuss.

It seems quite unlikely that this was pure accident, but far more likely that you deliberately chose to not defend the acquisition by the U.S. of New Mexico, Colorado, and so on, because you know that the case of California is fraught with considerable more ambiguity than the relatively straightforward circumstances of the Mexican-American War, and our seizure of land by force, compensated for unilaterally after the fact, at gunpoint, by our tossing Mexico some money that we said they had to take.

If your position is that Mexico and Mexicans have no legitimate historical grievance over their huge loss of land taken by force by us, well, that's interesting, and I'll look forward to your further explications of that idea.

Is there a nation you can think of that did not come to being by taking at least some land from someone else? I imagine there are, but not many.

"Is there a nation you can think of that did not come to being by taking at least some land from someone else? I imagine there are, but not many."

Indeed, but I'm unclear how this is a relevant question, given that no one has proposed that the U.S. give back land to Mexico.

Stan LS brought up this poll question, and evidently considered it to be evidence of... something. He didn't bother to say what, exactly. But apparently it's evidence of Mexican perfidy, or desire to reconquer their former land, or some such Dr. Evil plot.

"asked whether they believe that "The territory of the United States' southwest rightfully belongs to Mexico"

* 58% of Mexicans agree with the statement
* 28% disagreed
* 14% said they weren't sure.

Reply: so what? They have good cause for that opinion.

And as a corallary to your observation, jrudkis, lots of people around the world feel that various pieces of land "rightfully belongs" to their people or country. It is, as you implicitly observe, an utter commonplace. The fact is deeply shrugworthy, and hardly means that invasion, or guerilla war, or whathaveyou, is impending or intended.

It's a big "so what?"

Sorry, must have misunderstood the thread. I thought there was an argument that Mexico has a special moral claim to land it lost.

If it didn't hurt the environment, use lots of natural resources and be ludicrously expensive, my option would have been a flaming wall of burning gas instead of a security fence, from San Diego to Brownsville. Try crossing that.

Ugh. Even if partly in jest, limiting your concept here to San Diego to Brownsville and not, say, Seattle to Niagara Falls, does little to assuage people's fears that there's some serious racism at work in the talk on immigration.

Note: I am emphatically not calling Charles a racist, merely commenting on framing.

I think the US can have a policy where it relies in part on Canadian border/immigration enforcement efforts as part of our own program for preventing unwanted border crossings, and not have a similar one in Mexico, without it being racist. Canadian law enforcement and society is less corrupt, and a reliance on thier own programs is reasonable. Relying on Mexico is not.

So with limited funds, I would focus on a wall on the southern border, not the northern one.

Charles Bird: If it didn't hurt the environment, use lots of natural resources and be ludicrously expensive, my option would have been a flaming wall of burning gas instead of a security fence, from San Diego to Brownsville. Try crossing that.

Don't forget the fire-proof crocodiles.

Sorry to be tardy in responding, and for the prolix serial responses below to:
Gary Farber
liberal japonicus


Gary said:

"It seems telling, Jay, that in response to points made about the formerly Mexican lands obtained by the U.S., you choose to pluck out only California to discuss."

Gary I referred to California specifically because I live in California, have read a lot of early California history, and used it as a general example of Spain's behavior in the other Southwestern states as it's pretty much the same. As far as I can tell, there isn't 'considerable more ambiguity to it.' Spain used the same modus operandi, starting in the 1500s, to gobble up as much land as they could in the New World: claim the land for Spain, send in troops and friars, build missions and forts, convert the souls of the heathen for Christendom, and siphon off the profits.

It was the same-old same-old in Texas: there the only appreciable difference from the later California conquest was the fact that Spain elbowed France out the way: Texas was French 'territory' at the time, and Spain snatched it from the French. Aside from that, the Spanish treatment of the Indians in Texas, and everywhere else, was the same. They did what they 'must to civilize and convert the ignorant natives' and 'domesticate' them (italic quotes typical of correspondence of the era) and if the Indians objected, guess what: the Spaniards chased them down, chained and jailed them, and if those persuasions failed to make them docile and obedient, chopped them into little pieces. If there's anything selectively 'fraught with ambiguity' there, I'd be happy to hear about it.

"If your position is that Mexico and Mexicans have no legitimate historical grievance over their huge loss of land taken by force by us, well, that's interesting, and I'll look forward to your further explications of that idea."

If you're asking if I think the Americans strong-armed the Mexican government into selling a big a chunk of land for less than it was worth, the answer's yeah: it wasn't a good deal for the new Mexican government; but do Mexicans have a legitimate historical grievance over it? About the same legitimacy as a pick-pocket has when he gets robbed by a stick-up man. And a stick-up man who only takes some of his money, then buys him dinner with part of the take.

The U.S. beat Mexico in a war, and Mexico sued for peace. But after Mexico capitulated, the U.S. didn't march on Mexico City and plant the stars and stripes in the Distrito Federal or take the land without offering any payment, which according to your 'gun at the head' statement they would have been able to do. And characterizing the payment to Mexico as merely 'tossing' Mexico some money is a trifle facile because it misrepresents the historical context of the monies involved.

Only 50 years earlier the U.S. paid the French about $15 million for the Louisiana Purchase, plus interest over six years, which brought the total to about $23 million. If you eyeball a historical map of U.S. land acquisition, the Louisiana Purchase looks about a third larger than the land acquired after the Mexican-American War, for which Mexico received $15 million. Plus they got another 6 million for the Gadsden Purchase (yes, the U.S. Congress was supposed to pay 10 million to Santa Ana and reneged on 3 or 4 million) but overall the money paid to Mexico compares favorably to what France was paid, acre for acre.

Overall, looking back at it from a 150 year perspective I'd say Mexicans have about the same legitimate historical grievance for what happened as the British do for losing the Colonies - which means not much...

liberal japonicus said this:

"I'm trying not to pile on here, but I don't think we (that pronoun chosen advisedly) have anything to say about Spanish 'wresting' the land from the Indian population, given our history in that regard. I'm not sure where the 3/4ths figure comes from, but your comment seems to imply that California was, by virtue of Spanish expansion, an unpopulated wilderness by the time we got around the Manifest Destiny-ing it."

lib-ja - I didn't think you were piling on, I'm not sensitive to criticism, but thanks for the polite demurral anyway.

In regard to where the 3/4ths figure comes from, it was in study I read some years ago about the decimations of the native populations in the U.S., but back then I was keeping hard copy notes now buried in paper boxes, and I don't have time to dig it out. However, this LINK may satisfy your need for verisimilitude. Here's a few relevant paragraphs from it:

"Epidemic diseases proved to be the most significant factor in colonial efforts to overcome native resistance. Soon after the arrival of Spanish colonists, new diseases appeared among the tribes in close proximity to the Spanish missions… With monotonous regularity, missionaries and other colonial officials reported upon the massive death and poor health of their Indian laborers. Pioneering demographer Sherburne F. Cook conducted exhaustive studies and concluded that perhaps as much as 60% of the population decline of mission Indians was due to introduced diseases."

The 60% doesn't include the numbers of Indians who died fighting the Spaniards (the linked article mentions some of the armed conflicts, which were periodic and brutal) but it's not a stretch to add another 15% to reach the 75% figure, which may be conservative.

"your comment seems to imply that California was, by virtue of Spanish expansion, an unpopulated wilderness by the time we got around the Manifest Destiny-ing it"

Not an unpopulated wilderness, but under-populated as far as Mexicans were concerned. At the time of the Spanish American War, approximately 80,000 Mexicans lived in the ceded territory, which comprised only about 4 percent of Mexico's population.

Gary,

"asked whether they believe that "The territory of the United States' southwest rightfully belongs to Mexico"

* 58% of Mexicans agree with the statement
* 28% disagreed
* 14% said they weren't sure.

Reply: so what? They have good cause for that opinion.

One might question the loyalty of people who think hold that opinion.

dr.ngo,

Seriously - are you aware that more than half of the "illegals" in the United States actually entered the country legally?

What does that change? Kick them out.

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