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Tag Archives: immigration

News for immigrants, non-citizens, and new Americans

Update from US Citizenship and Immigration Services

USCIS is considering changes that would allow certain immediate relatives (the spouse, children or parents of a U.S. citizen) who can demonstrate extreme hardship to a U.S. citizen spouse or parent to receive a provisional waiver of the unlawful presence bars before leaving the United States.

These procedures are not in effect and will not be available to potential applicants until USCIS publishes a final rule in the Federal Register specifying the effective date. USCIS plans to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking in the coming months and will consider all comments received as part of that process before publishing a final rule.

  • Do not send an application requesting a provisional waiver at this time. USCIS will reject any application requesting this new process and we will return the application package and any related fees to the applicant. USCIS cannot accept applications until a final rule is issued and the process change becomes effective. 
  • Be aware that some unauthorized practitioners of immigration law may wrongly claim they can currently file a provisional waiver application (Form I-601) for you. These same individuals may ask you to pay them to file such forms although the process is not yet in place. Please avoid such scams. USCIS wants you to learn the facts about protecting yourself and your family against scammers by visiting uscis.gov/avoidscams.

If you already have an immigrant visa interview with the U.S. Department of State, we strongly encourage you to attend. The Department of State may cancel your immigrant visa registration if you fail to appear at this interview.

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The following was taken from a newsletter from the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota.

Emergency Medical Assistance: Recently, 2,300 Minnesotans received letters informing them that they would no longer qualify for Emergency Medical Assistance (EMA) beginning January 1, 2012. Specifically, due to changes made during the 2011 special legislative session, EMA would no longer cover such treatment as dialysis, chemotherapy, in-patient treatment, or mental health treatment. Due to the nature of who EMA covers, these changes impacted only non-citizens. The persons affected ranged from children to the elderly; from undocumented parents with U.S. citizen children to persons who have been legal permanent residents in Minnesota for years. Among other actions, ILCM began taking calls from affected immigrants and community partners almost immediately. Thanks to the generosity of the Minneapolis Foundation, we were recently able to hire a part-time attorney to screen immigrants for possible immigration relief such as applying for U.S. citizenship, U-visas, or a family petition to address both their immigration status and their eligibility to access life-saving healthcare. ILCM is also working hard with multiple partners to try to reinstate EMA coverage for as many persons as possible. Please be sure to sign up for action alerts and we promise to keep you informed as this issue moves forward. For more details, read this January 10 article from Minnesota Public Radio.

Click here to read a fact sheet compiled by the Department of Human Services on how last years change to EMA reduced coverage of serious medical conditions for some of Minnesota’s low-income immigrants.

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Family Visa Waiver Petition: On January 6, USCIS announced its intent to reduce the time that U.S. citizens are separated from their family members under certain circumstances while those family members proceed through the legal immigration process. This announcement from USCIS is wonderful news for immigrant families across the United States. We believe the announcement is the result of high-profile advocacy efforts like that of film director Ruth Leitman in her stellar documentary Tony and Janina’s American Wedding: A Deportation Love Story, as well as stories like Emily and Raul’s represented by ILCM and its pro bono attorneys, and another one in which an ILCM board member’s client died while waiting to be reunited with his U.S. citizen spouse from Hinckley.

 
 

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2012 legislation of interest (so far)

SF 1556 (Lourey; Higgins; Marty; Hayden and Sheran) (Companion to HF
1907)

Referred to the Health and Human Services committee. Restores the 20% wage cut for family members providing personal care assistance (PCA) services.
https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bin/bldbill.php?bill=S1556.0.html&session=ls87
HF 1953 (Abeler and Hilstrom)

Referred to the Education Reform
committee. Prohibits bullying and retaliation against bullying in public schools and requires public and charter schools to provide bullying prevention programs for all K-12 students.
https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bin/bldbill.php?bill=H1953.0.html&session=ls87

HF 1986 (Gottwalt)

Referred to the Health and Human Services Reform committee. Reduces the income eligibility criteria for the Healthy Minnesota Contribution Program, which provides MinnesotaCare enrollees with vouchers to purchase health insurance on the private market, from 200% to 150% of the federal poverty level. Extends the period of time the person on the program has to choose a health insurance plan from three to four months before they lose their eligibility and have to reapply. Allows MinnesotaCare enrollees who are eligible for MCHA (Minnesota’s high-risk pool) to enroll in MCHA without first being denied coverage by a health plan.
https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bin/bldbill.php?bill=H1986.0.html&session=ls87

HF2048
Council on Affairs of Chicano/Latino People, Council on Black Minnesotans, Council on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans, Indian Affairs Council, and Council on Disabilities continued existence provided.
https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bin/bldbill.php?bill=H2048.0.html&session=ls87.

HF645
Collaborative grant program to reduce minority populations unemployment and appropriation
https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bin/bldbill.php?bill=H0645.0.html&session=ls87

SF1672 and HF1888
Expands medical assistance eligibility to include qualified noncitizens that entered the United States on or after August 22, 1996 and noncitizens that are not legally “qualified noncitizens” as they work toward citizenship. (this repeals the new provision passed in 2011 that cut off EMA for non-citizens).
https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bin/bldbill.php?bill=S1672.0.html&session=ls87

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2012 in Legislative

 

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New Americans in Minnesota, a fact sheet from the Immigration Policy Center

Immigration stats

 

Originally posted at http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/just-facts/new-americans-minnesota

Immigrants and their children are growing shares of Minnesota’s population and electorate.

  • The foreign-born share of Minnesota’s population rose from 2.6% in 1990, to 5.3% in 2000, to 7.1% in 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Minnesota was home to 378,483 immigrants in 2010, which is more than the total population of New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • 44.7% of immigrants (or 169,246 people) in Minnesota were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2010—meaning that they are eligible to vote.
  • 4.3% (or 126,034) of registered voters in Minnesota were “New Americans”—naturalized citizens or the U.S.-born children of immigrants who were raised during the current era of immigration from Latin America and Asia which began in 1965—according to an analysis of 2008 Census Bureau data by Rob Paral & Associates.

Roughly 1 in 11 Minnesotans are Latino or Asian.

  • Asians comprised 2.0% (or 56,000) of Minnesota voters in the 2008 elections, and Latinos accounted for 1.3%(or 35,000), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • In Minnesota, 86.3% of children with immigrant parents were U.S. citizens in 2009, according to data from the Urban Institute.
  • In 200988.3% of children in Asian families in Minnesota were U.S. citizens, as were 90.3% of children in Latino families.

Latino and Asian entrepreneurs and consumers add billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs to Minnesota’s economy.

  • The 2010 purchasing power of Minnesota’s Asians totaled $5.9 billion—an increase of 662.1% since 1990.
  • Minnesota’s 11,371 Asian-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $2.4 billion and employed 16,950 people in 2007, the last year for which data is available.

Minnesota’s diverse immigrant population adds hundreds of millions of dollars to the state’s economy.

  • In the Twin Cities metro area, 138 immigrant-owned businesses created 386 new jobs and spent $5.6 million on payroll, rent, and supplies in 2002, according to a study from the University of Minnesota.
  • More than 16,000 Asian-Indians living in Minnesota accounted for $500 million in consumer purchasing power, paid $5.2 million in real estate taxes and $2.3 million in rent, and owned 400 companies that employed more than 6,000 people, according to the same report.
  • Minnesota was home to 60,000 Hmong, whose businesses generated an estimated $100 million in revenue, according to the same report.

Immigrants are integral to Minnesota’s economy as workers.

  • Immigrants comprised 8.3% of the state’s workforce in 2010 (or 243,842 workers), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Immigrants accounted for 8% of total economic output in the Minneapolis metropolitan area as of 2007, according to a study by the Fiscal Policy Institute.
  • Unauthorized immigrants comprised 2.1% of the state’s workforce (or 60,000 workers) in 2010, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
  • If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Minnesota, the state would lose $4.4 billion in economic activity, $2.0 billion in gross state product, and approximately 24,299 jobs, even accounting for adequate market adjustment time, according to a report by the Perryman Group.

Unauthorized immigrants pay taxes.

  • Unauthorized immigrants in Minnesota paid $81.7 million in state and local taxes in 2010, according to data from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy, which includes:
  • $15.6 million in state income taxes.
  • $7.6 million in property taxes.
  • $58.4 million in sales taxes.

Immigrants are integral to Minnesota’s economy as students.

  • Minnesota’s 11,550 foreign students contributed $276.3 million to the state’s economy in tuition, fees, and living expenses for the 2009-2010 academic year, according to the NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

Naturalized citizens excel educationally.

  • In Minnesota, 35.3% of foreign-born persons who were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2009 had a bachelor’s or higher degree, compared to 29.7% of noncitizens. At the same time, only 21.2% of naturalized citizens lacked a high-school diploma, compared to 35.1% of noncitizens. 
  • The number of immigrants in Minnesota with a college degree increased by 71.2% between 2000 and 2009, according to data from the Migration Policy Institute.
  • In Minnesota, 79.1% of children with immigrant parents were considered “English proficient” as of 2009, according to data from the Urban Institute.
  • The English proficiency rate among Asian children in Minnesota was 74%, while for Latino children it was 84.8%, as of 2009.
 
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Posted by on February 7, 2012 in Press Release

 

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Asian American Center for Advancing Justice acts on federal and state immigration policies

http://advancingjustice.org/

Asian American Groups Express Deep Concern and Opposition to Secure Communities

Secure Communities (S-Comm) is an Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) program that automatically forwards all fingerprints taken by local police to ICE for civil immigration background checks at the point of arrest.

Asian American Center for Advancing Justice has criticized S-Comm for being an indiscriminate mass deportation program, rather than one that is focused on identifying and deporting individuals with serious criminal convictions. 74 percent of those deported as a result of S-Comm either did not have any criminal convictions or have convictions for the lowest level offenses, including misdemeanors and minor traffic offenses.

Stewart Kwoh of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center states, “S-Comm has caused much harm to the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. Many AAPI immigrants come from countries with a history of government corruption, which makes it difficult for these community members to come forward and trust law enforcement. S-Comm compounds this problem by adding potential immigration consequences to contact with local law enforcement.”

Titi Liu of the Asian Law Caucus noted, “S-Comm is fundamentally flawed because it burdens and entangles local police with immigrant enforcement, thereby driving a wedge between immigrant community members and local police. This in turn compromises public safety for all community members.”

read more on Asian American Press…

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AAJC Applauds the Obama Administration for Taking Positive Steps Towards Fairer Immigration Policies

Last week the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Utah’s immigration law HB 496, which is similar to Arizona’s SB 1070 law. DOJ previously sued Arizona challenging SB 1070 and recently brought similar suits against copycat laws in Alabama and South Carolina.

SB 1070-type laws aim to criminalize undocumented immigrants and impermissibly authorizes local police to enforce federal immigration laws, which frequently leads to racial and ethnic profiling of all immigrants or persons who appear foreign.

read more on Asian American Press…

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Asian American Groups Urge Supreme Court to Hold That Legal Permanent Residents Should Not Be Retroactively Subjected to Harsh New Legal Consequences

Members of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice have joined an amicus curiae brief in Vartelas v. Holder. The brief urges the U.S. Supreme Court to hold that the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), which seeks to remove a legal permanent resident’s (LPR) right to make “innocent, casual and brief” trips abroad without fear that he will be denied reentry, does not apply retroactively.

“Retroactive application renders long-time LPR’s unable to take short trips abroad to fulfill important family and religious obligations, including caring for dying parents and attending funerals. They also risk being subject to detention and deportation,” said Stewart Kwoh of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center.

read more on Asian American Press…

 

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2011 in Legislative, National news

 

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STAND BY COMMITMENT TO MINNESOTA’S REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS

The following article was originally printed in Asian American Press on Oct. 24, 2011

(Comments from CAPM: the typical fee for a citizenship test is $675, a cost that is very difficult to afford for low-income refugees and immigrants, especially those with a disability and limited English proficiency.)

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STAND BY COMMITMENT TO MINNESOTA’S REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS

By Pham Thi Hoa and John Keller

Mr. Vang is a refugee who was resettled in Minneapolis in 2004 after spending over a decade living in a makeshift refugee camp in Wat Thamkrabok in Thailand.

Like thousands of Hmong men, Mr. Vang proudly fought alongside U.S. forces during the Secret War in Laos. Because of his allegiance to the United States, Mr. Vang became a refugee after U.S. forces pulled out of Southeast Asia.

The United States agreed to resettle him and his family as legal refugees to the U.S., and ultimately Minnesota, under our international humanitarian treaty obligations. Today, he faces yet another crisis that leaves him fearful for his well-being.

At 63 years old, he faces the looming cut off of his Supplemental Security Income in the coming months if he does not successfully naturalize. He has already attempted to naturalize once, but did not pass the test because of his limited English language ability and his disability which both qualifies him for SSI and simultaneously makes attaining citizenship more difficult.

On September 30th, Supplemental Security Income benefits will run out for thousands of low income, elderly and disabled refugees across the nation like Mr. Vang, unless Congress acts quickly to address a short term extension of the benefits. In fact, 720 refugees in Minnesota are projected to lose their SSI in 2011 alone — the third highest number in the country.

SSI provides the bare minimum, no more than $674 for an individual, and $1,011 for a couple per month, to afford the very basic necessities. During these tough economic times, it is especially unconscionable for us to cut off basic resources to this vulnerable community to whom we promised humanitarian treatment, when it could mean they are left hungry and without their basic needs met.

Today’s problem began fifteen years ago. In 1996, Congress restricted SSI to no more than seven years for elderly and disabled refugees, with the misconception that they should be able to naturalize within this time and thus, remain eligible for benefits. Importantly, in 2008, President Bush recognized the hardship this mandatory cut-off was having on vulnerable refugees and signed legislation to protect them — until September 30, 2011.

As direct service providers who work with refugee populations know all too well, seven years is not nearly enough time to learn English and gain citizenship, especially for a population that is elderly and who have disabilities that limit their learning ability. For those who have severe mental or physical disabilities, usually caused by the very situation they were forced to flee, and those who are often among the most elderly, the ability to learn a new language and memorize information for the naturalization test may take the rest of their lives.

Furthermore, some of these same vulnerable, disabled individuals may also face the loss of SSI due to errors or delays by either themselves, the government, or both while requesting asylum, permanent residency, and naturalization — a reality that any Congressional staffer who works with immigration applications will acknowledge. Refugee elders are often critical contributors to the livelihood of entire family units and communities.

For many elderly and disabled refugees, the cut off of SSI is severe and has a wide ranging impact on the well-being of their families. Our members of Congress must act to ensure that an extension on SSI is passed as soon as possible to prevent needless hardship for those most vulnerable among us.

In addition, the Minnesota delegation must also work in Congress to sever the link between naturalization and SSI for those who are elderly or disabled and to help us honor the commitment made to these internationally vulnerable neighbors.

Pham Thi Hoa is the executive director of CAPI, a community-based social justice organization and a direct implementer of anti-poverty programs to provide jobs, housing, food, health education, youth and senior social services in the Minneapolis area.

John Keller is executive director of the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, whose mission is to provide quality immigration legal services, law-related education, and advocacy to meet the steadily increasing needs of Minnesota’s immigrant and refugee communities.

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2011 in Community news, Legislative, National news

 

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A Community of Contrasts: Asian Americans in the United States 2011

asian american national data census

A Community of Contrasts: Asian Americans in the United States 2011 compiles the latest data on Asian Americans at the national level. Produced by the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice, the report is a valuable resource to community organizations, elected and appointed officials, government agencies, foundations, corporations, and others looking to better understand and serve one of this country’s fastest growing and most diverse racial groups. Below is a summary of key findings in the report.

Note:  the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice will release a separate national report in 2012 dedicated to Pacific Islanders.

Asian Americans are the country’s fastest growing racial group.
The Asian American population in the United States grew 46% between 2000 and 2010, faster than any other racial group nationwide.

Asian Americans make significant contributions to the economy through entrepreneurial activity, job creation, and consumer spending.
Asian American entrepreneurs own over 1.5 million businesses, employing about 3 million people with an annual payroll of nearly $80 billion. Asian American firms were more likely than other firms to create jobs, and between 2000 and 2009, the buying power of Asian American communities increased 89%, from $269 billion to $509 billion.

Asian Americans are becoming citizens, registering to vote, and casting ballots
Approximately 68% of Asian Americans old enough to vote are U.S. citizens, but of those eligible to register to vote, 55% have done so, and the rate of Asian American voter turnout still lags behind that of non-Hispanic Whites. Greater naturalization, voter registration, and Get Out the Vote (GOTV) efforts are needed if Asian Americans are to realize their untapped political potential.

Immigration policies disproportionately impact Asian Americans.
Proportionately, Asian Americans are more likely than any other racial group to be foreign-born. Approximately 60% of Asian Americans were born outside the United States.

Language barriers continue to limit opportunities for millions of Asian Americans.
Roughly one out of every three Asian Americans are limited-English proficient (LEP). Providing assistance in Asian languages and greater opportunities to learn English promotes better access to good jobs, citizenship, voting, healthcare, social services, and the judicial system for millions of Asian Americans.

Asian American educational attainment varies widely among ethnic groups.

Disaggregated data show that the low educational attainment of Cambodians, Laotian, Hmong, and Vietnamese Americans limit employment opportunities for many in Southeast Asian communities. Job training programs and vocational English language instruction should be targeted to Asian Americans with lower levels of educational attainment in an effort to increase access to good jobs.

Some Asian Americans struggle economically.
Hmong Americans have the lowest per capita income of any racial or ethnic group nationwide, while Hmong, Bangladeshi, and Cambodian Americans have poverty rates that approach those of African Americans and Latinos. Federal, state, and local governments should establish or expand culturally and linguistically accessible public assistance programs to meet these needs.

Unemployment has impacted Southeast Asian American communities.
Hmong, Laotian, and Cambodian Americans have unemployment rates higher than the national average. Job training, adult English language learning, unemployment benefits, and other safety net programs should be made accessible to these workers as they struggle to get back on their feet.

Asian Americans continue to face housing concerns.
59% of Asian Americans own homes nationwide, yet homeownership rates lags significantly behind that of non-Hispanic Whites, with a majority of Bangladeshi, Hmong, and Korean Americans renting rather than owning their own homes.  The problem is compounded by large numbers of Asian Americans living in overcrowded housing.

Access to affordable healthcare coverage is critical for Asian Americans.
Asian Americans are twice as likely than both non-Hispanic Whites and African Americans to have seen a doctor in the past five years, despite being more likely to develop hepatitis, stomach and liver cancer, and other diseases. Asian Americans are also more likely than non-Hispanic Whites to be uninsured. The federal government should work with insurance companies and employers to expand access to affordable healthcare coverage for all U.S. residents, including immigrants.

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To view the full report, visit: http://www.advancingjustice.org/pdf/Community_of_Contrast.pdf

To visit the Center for Advancing Justice website, visit: http://www.advancingjustice.org/

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2011 in National news

 

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South Asian Immigration Roundtable, November 9, 2011

immigration banner

The Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans is organizing a South Asian immigration roundtable. The roundtable may be first in a series of several roundtables to better inform policy-makers and community members on how the immigration system affects Asian Pacific Minnesotans.

Purpose of the Roundtable:

America is a nation of immigrants and as we work to rebuild the economy, our ability to thrive depends, in part, on restoring responsibility and accountability to the immigration system.
We are seeking a diverse group of stakeholders who care about addressing the concerns and needs of those affected by immigration to provide their voices at the roundtable. Feedback collected will be submitted to Minnesota’s congressional legislators and to the Obama Administration.

When and Where:

Wednesday, November 9, 6:00pm – 8:00pm.
Washington County Library – R. H. Stafford Branch
8595 Central Park Place, Woodbury, MN 55125

Goals of the Roundtable:

Identify and prioritize top concerns or issues as provided by attendees.
Learn from attendees why the identified issue are most in need to be addressed.
Communicate the issues and concerns of the community with the White House and with policy makers.
Identify methods the community can actively address concerns and issues identified.

Event Agenda:

  • Sign in/Registration
  • Introductions
  • Presentation on immigration issues
  • Roundtable discussion (concerns and Issues from the community)
  • Determining action steps
  • Ending remarks

Join us in a meaningful discussion on the current immigration issues that face our community.

RSVP

Event details and RSVP at http://immiroundtable.eventbrite.com

Please contact us with any questions at capm@state.mn.us or call Brian Kao at 651-757-1742.

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2011 in CAPM Events

 

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repost from The Advocates for Human Rights, Human Rights of All Minnesotans

The following post is a repost from a newsletter from The Advocates for Human Rights, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and protecting human rights.

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Hot Topic: 2011 Legislative Session Threatens Respect for Human Rights of All Minnesotans

 By Michele Garnett McKenzie, The Advocates for Human Rights

Immigration Enforcement: An array of anti-immigrant legislation was introduced during Minnesota’s 2011 legislative session. Bills to designate English as Minnesota’s official language, outlaw community policing policies designed to protect crime victims and witnesses, and create new document fraud crimes were heard. Collaborative advocacy helped defeat all but one: contractors with the State of Minnesota must certify that they have taken steps to implement the federal E-Verify program for all newly hired employees (See State Government Finance Bill, H.F. 27/S.F. 12).

An eleventh-hour proposal to mandate Minnesota’s participation in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “Secure Communities” program was vetoed and kept out of the public safety bill signed by the governor. This controversial program, which runs fingerprints of people arrested against federal immigration databases, has come under fire from participating jurisdictions around the country and currently is the subject of an investigation by the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2011 in Community news, Legislative

 

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