A #prayer for #peace in #Mexico

Writing an asylum brief tonight. Cartel violence in Guerrero, Mexico. The pictures of what human beings do to each other, over and over…
These words probably change nothing, but repeating them starts to lighten the weight sitting on my chest tonight.

Published in: on February 9, 2015 at 8:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
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My loved one was picked up by ICE! Now what?!? #ICE #immigration #deportation

I practice almost exclusively immigration removal defense. Over the years, after doing countless initial consultations and taking frantic phone calls from loved ones, I have developed the following to answer the most common questions I am usually asked shortly after a person is placed in removal proceedings.

(if a person was picked up crossing the border, or if they have prior removal/deportation orders in their history, they may be deported right away without the opportunity of going before a judge. STOP READING THIS and contact an immigration attorney immediately to see if something can be done to stop their removal)

Northwest Detention Center

GEO Northwest Detention Center, Tacoma WA

Common Questions:

1. Is the detainee eligible for bond? There are a couple of things that make a person ineligible for bond, like an aggravated felony or being picked up by ICE within a certain radius of the Border. If a person is ineligible for bond, it might be possible to work out a deal with ICE to be released on “parole.” Parole is sometimes available from ICE if the detainee has been found credible in an asylum interview, or for other reasons has been determined by ICE to not be a flight risk or a threat to the community.

2. If he/she is eligible for bond, what to expect? A bond hearing needs to be scheduled. At that hearing, by law, the immigration judge cannot order a bond lower than $1,200. The amount of bond is set at the judge’s discretion so factors like number of DUI’s, or other criminal offenses, and the strength of the detainee’s case to stay in the United States will affect the amount of bond that is set. Sometimes, even if a person is technically eligible for bond, the judge may decide that he/she is too great a “flight risk” or a “danger to society” and refuse to set bond at all.

3. If a detainee bonds out of the detention center, future court dates will be scheduled at the Immigration Court that has jurisdiction over his/her case. If a detainee cannot bond out, court will be (usually) at the detention center where the detainee is being housed.

4. What court dates? Usually, a person in immigration legal proceedings will have 3 types of court hearings-bond, a Master Calendar Hearing, and an Individual Hearing. Sometimes, because the Immigration Court dockets are overcrowded and courts are understaffed and underfunded, a person will have several Master hearings.

5. Master Calendar Hearing? The MCH is like an arraignment in criminal court.

  • The judge makes sure the detainee has been served the paperwork that outlines the detainee’s “charges“- i.e. entered without inspection, or entered on a tourist visa and stayed after its expiration. These charges will also include any prior deportations/removals, and any criminal history. The detainee will be asked to concede and/or deny these charges.
  • The detainee will be asked to designate a country of removal (if he/she is deported, to which country should the USA send them).
  • The detainee will be asked to state what relief(s) he/she is seeking. This can be a combination of things-asylum and U Visa, for example, or Cancellation of Removal, etc. The detainee is also expected to submit any applications, e.g. asylum, COR, at this time (especially if this is the second or third Master Hearing).
  • The judge reviews any submissions and then sets the date for the detainee’s Individual Hearing, or another Master Hearing, depending on the court schedule and/or whether applications for relief have already been submitted to the court.

6. Individual Hearing? A MCH is held in front of everyone else who has a bond or MCH for that day. Anyone, usually, can sit in the court room and listen. An Individual Hearing is just the detainee, his/her attorney (if one has been retained), DHS/ICE attorney, and the judge. This is a trial to see if the detainee is eligible for the relief from deportation that he/she is requesting. The detainee can bring witnesses, will provide testimony, and other evidence they wish the judge to consider. DHS/ICE attorney will also bring evidence, cross examine the detainee and any other witnesses. The judge will also ask questions.  There is no jury. The decision whether the detainee stays in the United States or is removed is up to the judge.

7. If the Individual Hearing does not go well and the detainee is ordered “removed” (deported), this decision may be appealed.

8. If the immigrant is detained, this process may take 3-6 months, sometimes up to one year. If there is an appeal, the process may take longer. If the immigrant is out on bond/parole for the course of the proceedings, it could take a year or longer before the first Master Calendar Hearing and, often, cases drag on for years.

9. Most Immigration attorneys cost money. However, the money you spend to hire/retain a good immigration attorney will help you to

  • save money: attorneys know how to present a bond application to try and obtain the lowest bond possible from the immigration judge. Attorney’s also know when and where fee waivers may be requested so that their client does not end up paying large government application fees.
  • save time: attorneys with experience can hear the facts of a detainee’s case and determine if he/she has a case to stay in the United States, or if they should request Voluntary Departure and try to re-enter legally at a later date. Detainees can spend a year or longer detained, trying to figure out the immigration legal system only to be deported anyway. Some of the mistakes made along the way can have devastating consequences on any application to re-enter the United States at a later date. An immigration attorney can prevent this from happening. Immigration attorneys with experience also know what documentation and evidence is needed to present a strong case to the judge and will increase the likelihood of the immigrant winning his/her case in court.

10. Sometimes a detainee contacts me after they have tried to do all of the above without legal representation. Once the judge has denied all applications and ordered that person to be deported, it is often too late to undo the damage that has been done. This can be a very costly (in so many ways) mistake for the detainee.

One final tip-if you are looking to hire an immigration attorney, make sure that they are a member of American Immigration Lawyers Association. This is a group of attorneys who focus on immigration law and who stay up to date on the latest changes in immigration law. They also have a network of other immigration attorneys who all work together to make sure that the members of AILA have the best tools at their disposal.

(The above is an over view of the immigration court process and is intended to provide very general information. Immigration law is very time and fact specific. If you or someone you know has been placed in removal proceedings, contact an experienced immigration attorney as soon as possible to discuss the case)

Noelle Sharp is an immigration attorney who focusses on removal defense and practices primarily in the Pacific Northwest. She is a member of AILA and the American Immigration Council’s Ambassador to the Washington AILA Chapter. Feel free to contact the Immigration Law Offices of Noelle Sharp if you have any questions- 253-254-5298

Published in: on February 4, 2015 at 9:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Say no to the “SAFE Act”

HR 2778, the so-called “SAFE Act” being considered by the House Judiciary Committee, is not the reform we’ve been fighting for. It is a hateful bill to criminalize undocumented immigrants and make racial profiling the law of the land.

Our friends at United We Dream put together a series of infographics highlighting some of the worst parts of HR 2778. You can also see the full list at http://unitedwedream.org/safeact

SHARE with your friends to help educate our community about this dangerous bill!


Published in: on September 19, 2013 at 4:31 am  Leave a Comment  
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Court Rules Law Enforcement Can’t Prolong Stop to Question an Individual About Immigration Status

Court Rules Law Enforcement Can’t Prolong Stop
to Question an Individual About Immigration Status

In a victory for fair treatment of immigrants, Pierce County Superior Court has found that local law enforcement officers cannot prolong a detention to question individuals about their immigration status, citizenship status, and/or country of origin.

The ruling came in a lawsuit (Ramirez-Rangel v. Kitsap County) filed in January 2012 by the ACLU of Washington and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project on behalf of three individuals who were unlawfully detained so that Kitsap County Sheriffs could question them about and investigate their immigration status. In its Order, the Court gave guidance to all local law enforcement by finding that the Washington State Constitution “forbids local enforcement officers from prolonging a detention to investigate or engage in questioning about an individual’s immigration statute, citizenship status and/or national origin.”

On February 1, 2010, the three plaintiffs were harvesting shellfish when two Kitsap County deputy sheriffs noticed them speaking Spanish. Once the plaintiffs exited the beach, the deputies followed their truck and pulled them over, allegedly to investigate a defective headlight and their shellfish licenses. Although the deputies resolved all issues relating to the headlight and shellfish, the deputies prolonged the traffic stop to question the plaintiffs about their immigration status. The deputies then called the Border Patrol and held the plaintiffs until Border Patrol officers arrived at the scene.

“This is a great victory for civil liberties. The Court recognized that even if police have a lawful basis to stop people, police cannot continue to detain individuals to question them about their immigration status,” said ACLU of Washington staff attorney La Rond Baker. “The ruling provides clarity for law enforcement officers that questioning about immigration status during routine stops is unconstitutional.”

“This case was a clear-cut example of racial profiling. We are pleased that the Court made clear that state and local law enforcement are not authorized to detain individuals to investigate their immigration status. This will help ensure that people are not subjected to unlawful detention just to investigate their perceived immigration status,” said Matt Adams, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project staff attorney.

Plaintiffs were represented by Matt Adams of Northwest Immigrant Rights Project; Sarah Dunne, Nancy Talner, and La Rond Baker of the ACLU of Washington Foundation; and Maren Norton, Karin Jones, and Skylee Robinson of Stoel Rives LLP.

Published in: on September 17, 2013 at 9:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Few Ice Detainers Target Serious Criminals

Few Ice Detainers Target Serious Criminals

Very timely case-by-case data from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) show that no more than 14 percent of the “detainers” issued by the government in FY 2012 and the first four months of FY 2013 met the agency’s stated goal of targeting individuals who pose a serious threat to public safety or national security.

In fact, roughly half of the 347,691 individuals subject to an ICE detainer (47.7 percent) had no record of a criminal conviction, not even a minor traffic violation, according to information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University.

The detainers are notices issued by ICE and other Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agencies which ask local, state and federal law enforcement agencies not to release suspected non-citizens held at their facilities, in order to give ICE an opportunity to take them into its custody. Detainers, often called “immigration holds,” are a primary tool that ICE uses to apprehend the suspects it is seeking.

These results contrast sharply with the multiple press releases and official statements issued by the agency. “The removal of aliens who pose a danger to national security or a risk to public safety shall be ICE’s highest immigration enforcement priority,” claimed former ICE Director John Morton in an agency-wide memo describing the Obama Administration’s approach to immigration enforcement announced in June 2010.

Additional detailed analysis of these case-by-case ICE detainer records is now available in the second part of this three-part series at:


To keep up with TRAC, follow us on Twitter @tracreports or like us on Facebook:


TRAC is self-supporting and depends on foundation grants, individual contributions and subscription fees for the funding needed to obtain, analyze and publish the data we collect on the activities of the US Federal government. To help support TRAC’s ongoing efforts, go to:


Published in: on September 17, 2013 at 5:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Sign up for National Day of Action

Sign up to join the National Day of Action Sept 10 and tell Congress you want Immigration Reform

Published in: on September 4, 2013 at 11:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Five reasons why immigration reform is likely to pass this year


Published in: on August 29, 2013 at 3:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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make calls TODAY and TOMORROW to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee

The immigration debate has been evolving rapidly. The latest information is that the Senate Judiciary Committee will discuss detention, criminalization and interior enforcement provisions in the bill on Monday May 20th.

We encourage you to make calls TODAY and TOMORROW to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to urge them to oppose the amendments that would further harm immigrants in detention and support amendments that would further critical detention reforms. (see attached a more detailed analysis of these and other related amendments)

We are particularly concerned about Grassley Amendment 53 which would dramatically expand immigration detention during removal proceedings and indefinitely afterwards for those who cannot be removed as well as severely limit the use of alternatives to detention and bond hearings. Passage of this amendment would be a huge setback to our collective efforts to dramatically reduce detention.

Please make calls TODAY and TOMORROW. They do make an impact!! Please also share this action alert widely with your networks and allies.

Thank you.



MONDAY May 20th

Call Senators from the Judiciary Committee TODAY and TOMORROW

and ask them to:


“Hello, my name is [YOUR NAME] and I am calling to strongly urge Senator [NAME OF SENATOR] to OPPOSE Senator Grassley’s amendments 41, 47, 51 and 53 and Senator Sessions’ amendment 12. These amendments are too extreme and out-of-step with the bipartisan spirit of S.744.


“I further strongly urge Senator [NAME OF SENATOR] to SUPPORT Senator Coons’ amendment 6 and Senator Blumenthal’s amendment 2. These amendments are easy fixes that address critical issues needed to reform the immigration detention system.”



Grassley 41: Issue: This amendment strikes provision in bill that codifies the Office of Legal Access Programs and expands Legal Orientation Programs.

Grassley 47: Issue: This amendment strikes Section 3717, which provides for custody hearings for all detained immigrants and increases fairness of custody review and stipulated orders of removal procedures.

Grassley 51: This amendment strikes Section 3715, which directs DHS to create a secure alternatives program in every field office (including contracting with CBOs) and includes case management services. Section 3715 also requires DHS to make individualized assessments to determine level of supervision and to review the level of supervision monthly. It also permits secure alternatives to constitute custody in certain cases.

Grassley 53: Issue: This amendment expands immigration detention during removal proceedings and indefinitely afterwards for those who cannot be removed. Severely limits use of alternatives to detention and bond hearings.

Sessions 12: Issue: This amendment mandates bond levels of no less than $5,000 for nationals of non-contiguous countries, who have not been admitted or paroled, and who are apprehended within 100 miles of the border or present a flight risk as determined by ICE.


Coons 6: Issue: This amendment requires interoperability of ICE, CIS, CBP, and EOIR databases containing information on all detainees. Specifies categories of information that must be maintained in the database of each agency and establishes regular reporting requirements to Congress. Makes reports available to public without FOIA request.

Blumenthal 2: Issue: This amendment restricts the use of solitary confinement in immigration detention and outlines guidelines and oversight for its use.

Contact the Senators below who are on the Judiciary Committee

Senator Patrick Leahy (VT)
DC: (202) 224-4242
Email: https://www.leahy.senate.gov/contact/

Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA)
DC: (202) 224-3841
Email: https://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/e-mail-me

Senator Charles Schumer (NY)
DC: (202) 224-6542
Email: https://www.schumer.senate.gov/Contact/contact_chuck.cfm

Senator Dick Durbin (IL)

DC: (202) 224-2152

Email: http://www.durbin.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/footer-contact?p=contact

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI)

DC: 202-224-2921

Email: http://www.whitehouse.senate.gov/contact

Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN)
DC: (202) 224-3244
Email: http://www.klobuchar.senate.gov/emailamy.cfm?contactForm=emailamy&submit=Go

Senator Al Franken (MN)
DC: (202) 224-5641
Email: http://www.franken.senate.gov/?p=email_al

Senator Christopher A. Coons (DE)

DC: (202) 224-5042

Email: http://www.coons.senate.gov/contact/

Senator Richard Blumenthal (CT)

DC: (202) 224-2823

Email: https://www.blumenthal.senate.gov/contact/#

Senator Mazie K. Hirono (HI)

DC: (202) 224-6361

Email: http://www.hirono.senate.gov/contact.cfm

Senator Orrin Hatch (UT)

DC: (202) 224-5251

Email: http://www.hatch.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-orrin

Senator Lindsey Graham (SC)

DC: (202) 224-5972


Senator John Cornyn (TX)
DC: (202) 224-2934
Email: http://www.cornyn.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=ContactForm

Senator Mike Lee (UT)

DC: (202) 224-5444

Email: http://www.lee.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact

Senator Jeff Flake (AZ)
DC: (202) 224-4521
Email: http://www.flake.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact-jeff

Published in: on May 17, 2013 at 5:12 pm  Leave a Comment  


Today, debate around S. 744 begins. Over 300 amendments were filed, and the committee begins with border amendments. Please consider calling your Senator to oppose harsh amendments that will continue the failed policies of militarization on the border and violations of civil and human rights. See the alerts below from the Interfaith Coalition (Spanish and English).

URGENT Action Alert: CALLS needed THIS MORNING (Thursday, May 9)

TODAY is the first day that the Senate Judiciary Committee will be considering amendments on the bipartisan immigration bill, S. 744. Today they will consider amendments on the bill’s border provisions. Judiciary committee members need to hear from all people of faith across the country – not just those who live in their states – about how these amendments will impact our communities.

Please call 1-866-940-2439 THIS MORNING to speak with the office of a specific Judiciary Committee member. Below is a sample script you can use. More information on the amendments is below.

“As a person of faith, I urge the Senator to SUPPORT immigration amendments Coons #2, Hirono #23, Feinstein #6 and #11, and Blumenthal #10, which would protect families and vulnerable populations.

I also urge you to OPPOSE ALL amendments offered by Senators Grassley and Sessions, which would irresponsibly increase enforcement efforts and delay the pathway to citizenship.”


Senator Coons’ Amendment #2

This amendment would prohibit dangerous deportation practices that place migrants at increased vulnerability when deported at the Southern U.S. border.

Senator Hirono’s Amendment #23

This amendment would protect family values when individuals are apprehended at U.S. borders by taking into account the best interest of children and family unity.

Senator Feinstein’s Amendments #6 and #11

These amendments would help border communities by declaring the border area only 25 miles within the U.S. perimeter, as opposed to the current 100 miles, and keep children safe when in border patrol custody.

Senator Blumenthal’s Amendment #10

This amendment would help the Federal government discourage and prevent racial profiling by allowing the Attorney General to refuse to reimburse state and local governments for detentions and prosecutions resulting from a violation of the law by a law enforcement official, such as an act of racial profiling.


ALL of Senator Grassley’s Amendments

Senator Grassleys’ amendments (numbers 1, 4, and 6 specifically) could delay the pathway to citizenship for at least six months, if not indefinitely, and would increase border and interior enforcement measures above and beyond what the immigration bill already calls for.

ALL of Senator Sessions’ Amendments

Senator Sessions’ Amendments (numbers 9, 37, and 38 specifically) would mandate 700 miles of double-layered fencing; strike provisions to provide training to Border Patrol agents on the appropriate use of force, civil rights, cultural sensitivity, and screenings for vulnerable populations, and environmental concerns; and would signal that the use of force, including lethal force, by Border Patrol is permissible.

*Please note that you likely will not be connected with your own Senator’s office through this number, unless they are a specific Judiciary Committee member. This is the best way to raise our voices at this moment. Judiciary members know they are responsible to ALL of us as they consider amendments. Feel free to call 1-866-940-2439 multiple times to connect with all priority Judiciary members. The Judiciary Committee list can be found at http://www.judiciary.senate.gov/about/members.cfm, if you want to call directly.

Follow the markup live at a link provided at http://www.judiciary.senate.gov. On Twitter, use #CIRmarkup, #SJC (senate judiciary committee), #timeisnow, #p2c (path to citizenship).You can also tweet at Judiciary Committee members: @SenatorLeahy, @SenFeinstein, @ChuckSchumer, @SenatorDurbin, @SenWhitehouse, @amyklobuchar, @alfranken, @ChrisCoons, @SenBlumenthal, @maziehirono, @ChuckGrassley, @OrrinHatch, @SenatorSessions, @LindseyGrahamSC, @JohnCornyn, @SenMikeLee, @tedcruz, @JeffFlake

For more information, go to http://www.interfaithimmigration.org.

URGENTE Alerta de Acción: Llamadas necesarias ESTA MAÑANA (jueves, 9 de mayo)

HOY es el primer día que el Comité Judicial del Senado va a considerar las enmiendas al proyecto bipartidista de reforma migratoria S. 744. Hoy se tomaran en cuenta enmiendas sobre las provisiones fronterizas del proyecto migratorio. Miembros del Comité Judicial necesitan escuchar de toda la gente de fe que vive alrededor del país – no sólo de los que viven en sus estados – acerca de cómo estas enmiendas impactaran a nuestras comunidades.

Por favor llame al 1-866-940-2439 esta mañana para hablar con la oficina de un miembro del Comité Judicial. A continuación se muestra una escritura que puede utilizar. Más detalles sobre las enmiendas están por debajo.

“Como una persona de fe, insto al senador a que apoye la enmienda de inmigración número dos del Senador Coons, enmienda número veintitrés de la senadora Hirono, enmienda número seis y once de la senadora Feinstein y enmienda número diez del senador Blumenthal que protegerán a las familias y las poblaciones vulnerables.

También insto a que el senador se oponga A TODAS las enmiendas propuestas por los senadores Grassley y Sessions, que irresponsablemente aumentan las medidas de enjuiciamiento y retrasan el camino a la ciudadanía”.


Senador Coons Enmienda #2

Esta enmienda prohibiría prácticas de deportación peligrosas que ponen a los inmigrantes en mayor vulnerabilidad cuando son deportados en la frontera del sur de EE.UU..

Senadora Hirono Enmienda #23

Esta enmienda protegería los valores familiares cuando individuos son detenidos en las fronteras de Estados Unidos tomando en cuenta el mejor interés de los niño y de la unidad familiar.

Senadora Feinstein Enmienda #6 y #11

Esta enmienda mejorar la vida de las comunidades fronterizas, al declarar la zona fronteriza a sólo 25 kilómetros dentro del perímetro de EE.UU., en lugar de los actuales 100 kilómetros, y mantendría a los niños seguros cuando están en custodia de la Patrulla fronteriza.

Senador Blumenthal Enmienda #10

Esta enmienda ayudaría al Gobierno Federal desalentar y prevenir la discriminación racial al permitir que el Fiscal General niegue el rembolso a los gobiernos estatales y locales por detenciones y procesamientos resultantes de una violación de la ley por un oficial de la ley, tales como un acto de discriminación racial.


Todas las enmiendas del senador Grassley
Las enmiendas del senador Grassleys (números 1, 4 y 6 específicamente) podrían retrasar el camino a la ciudadanía durante al menos seis meses, si no de forma indefinida, y se incrementarían las medidas de ejecución fronterizas e interiores más allá de lo que el proyecto de ley de inmigración ya requiere.

Todas las enmiendas del senador Sessions
Las enmiendas del Senador Sessions (números 9, 37 y 38 específicamente) asignarían como mandato 700 millas de doble cercado; eliminarían provisiones que proveen entrenamiento a los agentes de la Patrulla Fronteriza sobre el uso adecuado de la fuerza, los derechos civiles, la sensibilidad cultural, y como conducir pruebas de detección de poblaciones vulnerables, y también señalarían que el uso de fuerza, incluyendo la fuerza letal por la Patrulla Fronteriza es permitida.

* Por favor, tenga en cuenta que es probable que no sea conectado con la oficina de su propio senador a través de este número, al menos que sea un miembro del Comité Judicial específico. Esta es la mejor manera de elevar nuestras voces en este momento. Miembros del Comité Judicial saben que son responsables a todos nosotros mientras consideran las enmiendas. No dude en llamar al 1-866-940-2439 varias veces para ser conectados con todos los miembros prioritarios del Comité Judicial. Puede encontrar la lista del Comité Judicial en http://www.judiciary.senate.gov/about/members.cfm si quiere llamarlos directamente.

Siga la calificación del proyecto bipartidista en vivo en un enlace que aparece en http://www.judiciary.senate.gov. En Twitter, usen #CIRmarkup, #SJC (Comité Judicial del Senado), #timeisnow, # p2c (camino a la ciudadanía).También puede comunicarse con miembros del Comité Judicial usando sus nombres: @SenatorLeahy, @SenFeinstein, @ChuckSchumer, @SenatorDurbin, @SenWhitehouse, @amyklobuchar, @alfranken, @ChrisCoons, @SenBlumenthal, @maziehirono, @ChuckGrassley, @OrrinHatch, @SenatorSessions, @LindseyGrahamSC, @JohnCornyn, @SenMikeLee, @tedcruz, @JeffFlake

Para obtener más información, vaya a http://www.interfaithimmigration.org.

Published in: on May 9, 2013 at 2:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

May 6, 1882: Congress Passes First Major Law Restricting Immigration

“May 6, 1882: Congress Passes First Major Law Restricting Immigration”

ABA Journal

Published in: on May 4, 2013 at 4:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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