Why a Wall?

 

“…and I’ll make Mexico pay for it!”

Who cares if Mexico pays for it? We’re arguing over $5,000,000,000 in the budget; it’s an unimaginably huge amount in terms of my pocket book but the federal government wastes that much money on nothing every day. Yeah, I darn well would prefer if the feds didn’t waste all that money all the time. Border defense constitutes one of the fundamental duties of the government, and I’m willing to pay for it. The question then becomes what’s the best way to go about it?

Well, you’ve got other options: E-verify. Better enforcement on visa overstays. Radar and helicopters and active border patrol units, hey, that’s what we already do. Why don’t we just beef up the current operations?

The problem is, as it always is, politics. Without going into it too deep, look at Marco Rubio. In 2010 he was the Tea Party’s golden boy; he articulated conservative ideas well, he was young, good-looking, and he was actually a minority so that none of that Democrat identity politics would work on him. And then the Gang of Eight happened. The Tea Party’s golden boy was proposing amnesty.

My point isn’t to pick on Rubio in particular. Politicians lie, always have, always will. You gotta figure they’ll always look out for #1. But that usually comes in the form of pandering to your voters and your donors; makes one wonder why the GOP so consistently lurches to the left of its base on immigration. I’ve seen a number of explanations and none that seem complete. My best guess is that the politicians have read the demographic charts, they assume that the ever-growing Hispanic percent of their district will take a strong view on immigration. The votes they’d lose from a smaller portion of the electorate that holds strong views on the subject is going to be more than they’d lose by disappointing their base (who, let’s face it, are already going to vote for ’em over the Democrat).

And, to be fair, there are some perfectly reasonable ideological stances that argue in favor of immigration. More people means a bigger economy. Free trade theoretically includes the free exchange of labor across borders. A lot of people come here to pursue the American dream. Heck, I dislike e-verify simply because I don’t like people tracking my movement, especially the government. Maybe that politician is voting that way based on noble reasoning. If so he shouldn’t have sold his views as something else to the public.

For ages, we’ve had politicians who’ve superficially agreed with us, but can’t ever seem to get the job done. The best we seem to get out of them is boilerplate rhetoric, stuff that’s carefully crafted to sound tough to the base but be easy to walk back later.

And here we get back to Trump; Trump read the market and realized there was an unmet demand. Instead of offering the standard he says he’s going to build a wall, and make Mexico pay for it. People have said they’ll build a wall before, but make Mexico pay for it? You can’t walk that back to appeal to a constituency who supposedly has fond associations with Mexico. Trump wasn’t just taking a position; he was nailing himself in place. The fact that he can’t back down from that position lets his voters believe that, when they vote for immigration restrictions this time, maybe it’ll stick.

And that’s also why the wall itself is important. Take any other measure; if one administration raises the funding for the Border Patrol the next one can lower it again. Helicopters and radar and whatnot can be given and taken away. E-verify can be ignored. But a wall? It’s much harder to take a wall back. The politicians can lie all they want; if they had to spend some serious political capital to tear the wall down, brother, it ain’t gonna happen. Maybe they pull the guards off, maybe they offer amnesty. On the other hand, maybe we’ll get more politicians who realize that their voters don’t like being played for saps.

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  1. Hank Rhody, Acting on Emotion Contributor
    Hank Rhody, Acting on Emotion
    @HankRhody

    Could Be Anyone (View Comment):

    Hank Rhody, Acting on Emotion (View Comment):

    One, that sentence is literally true. See John ‘Build the dang fence’ McCain.

    Does one politician speak for all? I don’t think so. That was a bad ad but given how much flak McCain got for being a moderate he probably thought it was a way to secure a sector of the party that didn’t like him.

     

    You know, if your intention is to disabuse me of the notion that politicians lie to me then you’re going to have to do a little more than tell me I haven’t provided enough examples.

    Actually, I really don’t know what you’re arguing at all. I’m not making a ‘and that’s how you got Trump’ argument; I’m trying to explain why people are insisting on the wall. Whether or not 40% of the country are enough to get the job done has nothing to do with what they want and why they want it.

    • #31
  2. Guruforhire Inactive
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    I want a wall that is rated by the mongol-millenia.

    • #32
  3. Mendel Inactive
    Mendel
    @Mendel

    Hank Rhody, Acting on Emotion (View Comment):
    Whether or not 40% of the country are enough to get the job done has nothing to do with what they want and why they want it.

    One problem I have with any public opinion poll is that it’s easy for an average Jose to tell a telephone pollster everything they want when it has no cost to them. Characterizing a citizen’s desire for any given policy as either “yes” or “no” says nothing about how strong that desire is.

    In the end, the question that matters is “would you elect/re-elect Politican X if he voted for/voted against/didn’t vote on The Wall”? If you say an issue is important to you but re-elect a politician who didn’t vote for it (or, just as critically, voted for a Congressional leader who did everything in his power to prevent a serious vote on the wall from coming to the floor), then building the wall isn’t a very high priority.

    Last summer, the country held the most meaningful poll of GOP voters: the Republican primaries for Congress. Not a single GOP member was primaried out of office. How upset can GOP voters really be over the lack of a wall vote if they rewarded their Congresscritters’ inactivity with a vote of confidence?

    • #33
  4. Mendel Inactive
    Mendel
    @Mendel

    The other question that I think helps clarify the “how badly do you want your preferred policy” question is: what trade-offs would you be willing to make for it?

    Let’s just stick with immigration trade-offs: what would you be willing to trade for, say, the original $25B in border wall funding?

    How about amnesty for all currently living illegally in the US? No? Why not?

    • #34
  5. Mendel Inactive
    Mendel
    @Mendel

    cdor (View Comment):
    Republican politicians who wish to continue allowing people to come here and live here illegally are voting for their own demise. Those folks will not grow into Republicans.

    No, but there’s a decent chance that an influx of (Democrat-voting) immigrants will cause more non-immigrants/non-Hispanics who currently vote Democrat, are swing voters, or rarely vote at all to become solid Republican votes.

    The tired cliche that “letting in new immigrants will create a permanent Democrat majority” assumes that all blocs of native American voters will maintain their present party loyalty forever. But the fact that Donald Trump won several states previously considered to be part of the “Blue Wall” are pretty clear evidence that voting patterns are not set in stone but are constantly shifting.

    An influx of new Democrat voters will almost certainly cause many current non-Republican voters to become Republican voters. After all, we’ve been minting millions of new Hispanic citizens for several decades now and the Democrats are still far from having an electoral stranglehold on the country.

    • #35
  6. Could Be Anyone Member
    Could Be Anyone
    @CouldBeAnyone

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Could Be Anyone, you get kudos for taking a position that, whether or not it’s popular in the outside world, is going to be unpopular on Ricochet. You are defending your corner and didn’t slink away, as many writers do. But I think you’re straw-manning it a little with–

    My overall point, if not made clear, is that polling shows a fairly large majority of Americans do not favor a strong stance, build the wall and make sure the illegals are deported, on illegal immigration. That is not a question of norms but of facts of public opinion and passing legislation.

    Sorry, you lost me at make sure the illegals are deported. I haven’t seen anyone here say that, Mickey Kaus doesn’t say that, Mark K[ri]korian and other restrictionists don’t say that. It makes the restrictionist argument look bad, sure…but it isn’t remotely true.

    I didn’t note Krikorian or Kaus. If I wanted, though, I could cite Coulter as evidence that restrictionists do want it.

    Afterall CIS, which Krikorian is a leader of, has posted essays on why deportation is more economic than amnesty. So do restrictionists want it? I don’t read minds but their most well known think tank has elaborated on certain calculus that justify it and some of them have said they would like it. But I will not claim Coulter as their representative. That would be cruel.

    I noted it as the strong option because that would be the strongest or extreme (and legal) resolution and Americans are not even in support of either half of it. I was attempting to show just how lenient and indifferent Americans are on the subject. Not trying to claim that all restrictionist want something. 

    • #36
  7. Could Be Anyone Member
    Could Be Anyone
    @CouldBeAnyone

    Hank Rhody, Acting on Emotion (View Comment):

    Actually, I really don’t know what you’re arguing at all. I’m not making a ‘and that’s how you got Trump’ argument; I’m trying to explain why people are insisting on the wall. Whether or not 40% of the country are enough to get the job done has nothing to do with what they want and why they want it.

    You explicitly stated that lying/inaction on immigration was how we got Trump. 

    For ages, we’ve had politicians who’ve superficially agreed with us, but can’t ever seem to get the job done. The best we seem to get out of them is boilerplate rhetoric, stuff that’s carefully crafted to sound tough to the base but be easy to walk back later.

    And here we get back to Trump; Trump read the market and realized there was an unmet demand.

    An unmet demand is how we got Trump. My point is that said demand is smaller than you and others elsewhere assert, so small its influence isn’t that much (yet those who belong to it apparently believe they are a majority). All the signs of said demand are more or less missing. Some think tank or two is hardly demand.

    • #37
  8. toggle Inactive
    toggle
    @toggle

    “Mr. Trump : Tear down this wall !”

    Everyone knows walls don’t work. What there is of the one we have doesn’t.
    Delinquency, identity theft, public health will only deteriorate if we don’t bulldozer the crumbling ruin of a thing already on our southern border.
    Think about the potential and opportunities in education—California, for example.
    Think about the possibility of, finally, ending the “war on drugs.”
    And the efficiency. No one will have to overstay the length of their visa—the enormous resources we spend tracking down and deporting those we know who have “overextended” their visas will be saved (wait—we all know the majority of illegal aliens are here after their visas expired, so we know how many and who they are, but how much has been spent to remedy that ? Will have to do some more research).

    Yes, half of a wall is worse than no wall and a full wall would be the worst, doubly so. Walls don’t work. Just ask anyone who has built one.

     

     

    • #38
  9. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    Hank Rhody, Acting on Emotion (View Comment):
    be difficult, expensive

    Name something difficult and expensive this congress can do?  I mean, really…

    Sure it’s possible.  It’s possible like eliminating drug use is possible.  Perhaps the War on Illegal Immigration is very similar to the War on Drugs.

    • #39
  10. Mendel Inactive
    Mendel
    @Mendel

    Spin (View Comment):

    It’s possible like eliminating drug use is possible. Perhaps the War on Illegal Immigration is very similar to the War on Drugs.

    They’re very similar in the sense that both are driven in large part by internal demand from US citizens.

    The War on Drugs was excellent proof that the market is stronger than the government. Lots of people were willing to pay top dollar for their illegal drugs, and no degree of government willpower could prevent that huge demand from being satisfied.

    With illegal immigration, it’s the converse: we as consumers have a drug-like addiction to cheap stuff – cheap groceries, cheap construction costs, cheap dining. And in the aggregate, that addiction is much greater than all the 1980s cocaine addictions combined.

    I have no moral objection to building a wall. But already, more than half of illegal immigrants arrive in the country legally and just overstay their welcome. Building a wall will just increase the incentive to let people in through the Big Beautiful Doors so they can help us afford another 1,000 square feet on our Big Beautiful Houses.

    If there’s anything the second half of the 20th century proved, it’s that markets are more powerful than militaries. And no system of military-like barriers can protect Americans from our own demand for cheap Krispy Kreme donuts.

    • #40
  11. toggle Inactive
    toggle
    @toggle

    Mendel (View Comment):
    The War on Drugs was excellent proof that the market is stronger than the government.

    Suggest that it is the contrary : our government subsidizes the drug market. i.e. the purchasing power of the “market” is less than that of all the public funding from our taxes that flows into the agencies and programs that support those who use drugs. Big Government has won the war on drugs, because it keeps getting bigger.
    That’s may take on it : the war on drugs is good for government, as long as it doesn’t end.

    • #41
  12. Hank Rhody, Acting on Emotion Contributor
    Hank Rhody, Acting on Emotion
    @HankRhody

    Could Be Anyone (View Comment):

    Hank Rhody, Acting on Emotion (View Comment):

    Actually, I really don’t know what you’re arguing at all. I’m not making a ‘and that’s how you got Trump’ argument; I’m trying to explain why people are insisting on the wall. Whether or not 40% of the country are enough to get the job done has nothing to do with what they want and why they want it.

    You explicitly stated that lying/inaction on immigration was how we got Trump.

    For ages, we’ve had politicians who’ve superficially agreed with us, but can’t ever seem to get the job done. The best we seem to get out of them is boilerplate rhetoric, stuff that’s carefully crafted to sound tough to the base but be easy to walk back later.

    And here we get back to Trump; Trump read the market and realized there was an unmet demand.

    An unmet demand is how we got Trump. My point is that said demand is smaller than you and others elsewhere assert, so small its influence isn’t that much (yet those who belong to it apparently believe they are a majority). All the signs of said demand are more or less missing. Some think tank or two is hardly demand.

    Yeah, the difference is I’m saying that’s something Trump saw, understood, and profited from. I’m not saying that’s the only thing, or the only reason people voted for him. You’ll note that that particular claim is absent from the remainder of the post.

    • #42
  13. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Spin (View Comment):
    And that is based on the simple fact that you ain’t sending all the ee-lee-gulls (that’s how my father in law always said it) back to Mexico. You just aren’t.

    We’re not ever going to convict all the murderers …

    Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the “good enough for now.”

    • #43
  14. Guruforhire Inactive
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    Mendel (View Comment):
    But already, more than half of illegal immigrants arrive in the country legally and just overstay their welcome

    Something simple, cheap, and effective which directly addresses 40% of the problem seems like a huge win to me.  This is what is called “low hanging fruit.”

    • #44
  15. Songwriter Inactive
    Songwriter
    @user_19450

    Here’s a curious thought: Have polls on illegal immigration & a wall been taken specifically among people in the states most affected by the issue (border states)? It would seem, on the surface at least, that Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, & California should perhaps have a bigger say in the matter, since they are the states that bear the brunt of illegal immigration.

    That is until Canadians start flooding across the northern border.

    • #45
  16. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    Percival (View Comment):

    Spin (View Comment):
    And that is based on the simple fact that you ain’t sending all the ee-lee-gulls (that’s how my father in law always said it) back to Mexico. You just aren’t.

    We’re not ever going to convict all the murderers …

    Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the “good enough for now.”

    Well…that would seem to make sense but for the warning in my heart.  

    Illegal immigrants aren’t, but definition, murderers.  They broke the law, there’s no question about that.  But not in a way that makes it urgent to get them off the street.  So the realities are, we aren’t going to round up the 12 million (or whatever the number is now).  We won’t even round up half.  But if we create a path to citizenship we might just get most of ’em squared with the man.  

    And my point isn’t that we shouldn’t deal with these folks.  It’s that the whole “send ’em all home, don’t give ’em amnesty” attitude is an oversimplification of the issue.  As if we are just picking up drunk guys on the street corner.  

    • #46
  17. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    Songwriter (View Comment):
    That is until Canadians start flooding across the northern border.

    They already do.  In their RVs.  Then they park at Wal-Mart, then head back with their many gallons of milk.

    • #47
  18. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Songwriter (View Comment):

    Here’s a curious thought: Have polls on illegal immigration & a wall been taken specifically among people in the states most affected by the issue (border states)? It would seem, on the surface at least, that Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, & California should perhaps have a bigger say in the matter, since they are the states that bear the brunt of illegal immigration.

     

    First off, I challenge the premise.  There is a noticeable chunk of the central Ohio metro area that has become a near no-go zone because of illegals.

    But I’d be willing to make the deal, on the day that people living in megacities stop talking about environmentalism for the rest of the country.

    • #48
  19. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Spin (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Spin (View Comment):
    And that is based on the simple fact that you ain’t sending all the ee-lee-gulls (that’s how my father in law always said it) back to Mexico. You just aren’t.

    We’re not ever going to convict all the murderers …

    Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the “good enough for now.”

    Well…that would seem to make sense but for the warning in my heart.

    Illegal immigrants aren’t, but definition, murderers. They broke the law, there’s no question about that. But not in a way that makes it urgent to get them off the street. So the realities are, we aren’t going to round up the 12 million (or whatever the number is now). We won’t even round up half. But if we create a path to citizenship we might just get most of ’em squared with the man.

    And my point isn’t that we shouldn’t deal with these folks. It’s that the whole “send ’em all home, don’t give ’em amnesty” attitude is an oversimplification of the issue. As if we are just picking up drunk guys on the street corner.

    The point was that the argument “you can’t deport all the illegals” is flawed in the same way.

    • There are million illegal aliens.
    • We deport X-N million.

    How large does have to be before it is not considered a failure?

    • #49
  20. philo Member
    philo
    @philo

    Percival (View Comment):

    • There are million illegal aliens.
    • We deport X-N million.

    How large does have to be before it is not considered a failure?

    Since X really is not a constant (i.e. lots of coming and going) I think a more complex formula may be warranted…the more accurate expanded version that incorporates V (voluntary deportees) and C (those who choose not to become illegal aliens) would then indicate the reduction in illegal aliens as (X-N)-V-C.  And as long as it establishes proper control of our border and immigration it will not be a failure.

     

    • #50
  21. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    philo (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    • There are X million illegal aliens.
    • We deport X-N million.

    How large does N have to be before it is not considered a failure?

    Since X really is not a constant (i.e. lots of coming and going) I think a more complex formula may be warranted…the more accurate expanded version that incorporates V (voluntary deportees) and C (those who choose not to become illegal aliens) would then indicate the reduction in illegal aliens as (X-N)-V-C. And as long as it establishes proper control of our border and immigration it will not be a failure.

     

    The point was to illustrate the fallacy of the line of argument that says “less than means failure.”

    • #51
  22. Guruforhire Inactive
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    philo (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    • There are X million illegal aliens.
    • We deport X-N million.

    How large does N have to be before it is not considered a failure?

    Since X really is not a constant (i.e. lots of coming and going) I think a more complex formula may be warranted…the more accurate expanded version that incorporates V (voluntary deportees) and C (those who choose not to become illegal aliens) would then indicate the reduction in illegal aliens as (X-N)-V-C. And as long as it establishes proper control of our border and immigration it will not be a failure.

     

    I was hoping that C stood for catapults.

     

    • #52
  23. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    Percival (View Comment):
    The point was to illustrate the fallacy of the line of argument that says “less than means failure.”

    But nobody is making that point.  You are inferring it from what I’ve said.  Since all things can be reduced to a math problem, as you’ve shown, let me add another variable, T for Taco.  Because I like tacos and any Mexican who stays in the country legally might make me one.  That’s not racist.  That appreciation of Mexican culture.  So T represents those Mexicans in the country illegally who would stay and go through a path to citizenship were it available to me.  

    The formula now looks like this:

    (X-N)-V-C-T = the number of illegal immigrants left in the country after we do whatever it is we do.  

    If that ends up being anything less than X, we’ve succeeded to some degree.  And I’m saying that success should include T.  Because the number will be a better number if it does.  Because if T isn’t an option, the result is much higher than it might have been if it were.  

    See?

     

     

     

    • #53
  24. philo Member
    philo
    @philo

    Spin (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):
    The point was to illustrate the fallacy of the line of argument that says “less than N means failure.”

    But nobody is making that point. You are inferring it from what I’ve said. Since all things can be reduced to a math problem, as you’ve shown, let me add another variable, T for Taco. Because I like tacos and any Mexican who stays in the country legally might make me one. That’s not racist. That appreciation of Mexican culture. So T represents those Mexicans in the country illegally who would stay and go through a path to citizenship were it available to me.

    The formula now looks like this:

    (X-N)-V-C-T = the number of illegal immigrants left in the country after we do whatever it is we do.

    If that ends up being anything less than X, we’ve succeeded to some degree. And I’m saying that success should include T. Because the number will be a better number if it does. Because if T isn’t an option, the result is much higher than it might have been if it were.

    See?

    So blanket amnesty would make them all legal and maximize your taco potential.  I see where you are coming from now.

    • #54
  25. Guruforhire Inactive
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    Spin (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):
    The point was to illustrate the fallacy of the line of argument that says “less than N means failure.”

    But nobody is making that point. You are inferring it from what I’ve said. Since all things can be reduced to a math problem, as you’ve shown, let me add another variable, T for Taco. Because I like tacos and any Mexican who stays in the country legally might make me one. That’s not racist. That appreciation of Mexican culture. So T represents those Mexicans in the country illegally who would stay and go through a path to citizenship were it available to me.

    The formula now looks like this:

    (X-N)-V-C-T = the number of illegal immigrants left in the country after we do whatever it is we do.

    If that ends up being anything less than X, we’ve succeeded to some degree. And I’m saying that success should include T. Because the number will be a better number if it does. Because if T isn’t an option, the result is much higher than it might have been if it were.

    See?

     

     

     

    T is only an option if it stands for trebuchets.

    • #55
  26. Freeven Inactive
    Freeven
    @Freeven

    Songwriter (View Comment):

    Here’s a curious thought: Have polls on illegal immigration & a wall been taken specifically among people in the states most affected by the issue (border states)? It would seem, on the surface at least, that Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, & California should perhaps have a bigger say in the matter, since they are the states that bear the brunt of illegal immigration.

    That is until Canadians start flooding across the northern border.

    Whether border states should have a bigger say in the matter is an interesting question. I’m leaning toward no, but I’d have to think on it some more.

    As for border state opinions regarding the wall, I just did a series of searches of the form Do Texans want a wall? and also Do border states want a wall? I won’t link to specific polls because I did little more than scan and have no idea about the quality of the polls. That said, a first pass answer seems to be that border states do not want a wall, and oppose building one by fairly clear margins. The same appears true for individual border cities.

    If these pools are accurate, the question of whether border states should have a larger say is somewhat moot, since national polls indicate that most Americans oppose a wall as well.

    This is both surprising and disappointing to me, as I strongly favor building a wall.

    • #56
  27. Freeven Inactive
    Freeven
    @Freeven

    I’m laughing at the last several posts quibbling about the proper formula for determining what constitutes successful immigration policy.

    This is an example of what I call The Conservative’s Burden: the need to get down in the weeds and wrestle over every detail. A Lefty, seeking to make the same point, would simply spout If it saves even one life…! and consider the argument settled.

    This is a game we can’t win and we can’t afford not to play.

    • #57
  28. Hank Rhody, Acting on Emotion Contributor
    Hank Rhody, Acting on Emotion
    @HankRhody

    Spin (View Comment):
    let me add another variable, T for Taco. Because I like tacos

    You have my attention.

    The problem with any sort of path to citizenship is that it begs the question. That is, it presumes certain questions settled, things like we’re okay with a certain level of border jumping, and that we owe something to the illegals simply because they’re nearby. There exists a path to citizenship; it’s called immigration. You can do it legally, although given the bureaucracy I can’t recommend it.

    • #58
  29. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Songwriter (View Comment):

    Here’s a curious thought: Have polls on illegal immigration & a wall been taken specifically among people in the states most affected by the issue (border states)? It would seem, on the surface at least, that Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, & California should perhaps have a bigger say in the matter, since they are the states that bear the brunt of illegal immigration.

     

    First off, I challenge the premise. There is a noticeable chunk of the central Ohio metro area that has become a near no-go zone because of illegals.

    But I’d be willing to make the deal, on the day that people living in megacities stop talking about environmentalism for the rest of the country.

    This. And you will get the same story in parts of the Southeast, not just Florida. The impact is nation-wide. 

    • #59
  30. Guruforhire Inactive
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    Hank Rhody, Acting on Emotion (View Comment):

    Spin (View Comment):
    let me add another variable, T for Taco. Because I like tacos

    You have my attention.

    The problem with any sort of path to citizenship is that it begs the question. That is, it presumes certain questions settled, things like we’re okay with a certain level of border jumping, and that we owe something to the illegals simply because they’re nearby. There exists a path to citizenship; it’s called immigration. You can do it legally, although given the bureaucracy I can’t recommend it.

    Well it also means that if they can jump the border and hide long enough they get what they want.

     

    • #60
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