SB177 and SB178 An Open Letter to the Committee

To the Honorable Committee Members,

 

I’m willing to give Sen Newell and Sen. Kerr the benefit of the doubt. It is possible that they sponsor SB 177 and SB 178 not for pharmaceutical companies' interests, or they may not be shilling for people who are beholden to them. They may believe that from their perspective that they promote safety with these laws. They probably listen to prosecutors who make their living sending disproportionate numbers of minorities and poor people to prison. I say to them, you are wrong.

America is the land of the free, or least we used to be. Prohibition has turned inner cities in to shooting galleries on a regular basis. So much so that more people are murdered in the USA on an annual basis than Mexico. Those are not safe environments for kids. The USA incarcerates more per capita than any other nation. This includes Russia, China, and Cuba.

I believe that they can produce better bills than what the current language in the bills dictates. Making felons out of causal marijuana use, and sending kids into the child welfare system will only continue generations of ruined lives. Frankly, I believe parents that become intoxicated on alcohol in front of their children do more harm and endanger their children more severely than individuals that would casually smoke marijuana, or make edible brownies.

Ending prohibition stops sending profits to cartels that are responsible for thousands of murders per year. It provides taxes that could be used for schools,infrastructure, and or rehabilitation.

I know that Sen. Kerr and Sen. Newell have sponsored bills in the past that demonstrate that they have compassion. Sen. Newell has a bill moving now that addresses the need for suicide prevention. That is a very good bill. I support that effort.

In summation, I would ask them to reconsider their position and I strongly urge that the Colorado Senate tables SB177 and SB178, or at least amend them to exclude cannabis.

 
Sincerely,
 
Raymond C. Springfield
 

Wadhams says CO Tea Party is now “part of the Republican establishment”

(That's not a compliment, is it? – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Dick Wadhams.

Dick Wadhams.

An important storyline for reporters to track coming out of the Republican Party's state convention this weekend is, simply, how are Colorado Republicans getting along with each other these days?

To hear former state GOP Chair Dick Wadhams tell it, historic divisions between the Tea Party and establishment wings of the party are now over because the Tea Party is now "part of the Republican establishment:"

Wadhams: All those new activists that brought so much vitality to our party since 2010, this is now their third election cycle of being involved. They're part of the Republican establishment now! [Laughs] After they've been involved three times, they've been elected country chairs. They've been elected party precinct committee people. They've been involved in the party. The fact is, they are playing as big a role in the party as the establishment is. Where the breakdown occurs, Dan, is when we nominate candidates who can't win a general election. [BigMedia emphasis.]

…I do think there was a misperception when the Tea Party first became such a force in 2010, that there was a process that basically shut them out of nominating candidates, that there was some kind of small power group that determined who the candidates were going to be. Nothing is further from the truth.

The nominating process of the Republican Party is as open and fair as you can think, because the people who show up at precinct caucuses and the people who show up and vote at the Republican primary, are the people who nominate candidates, not a handful of people sitting in a back room. In fact, we did some things when I was state chairman to empower that grassroots movement.

That's what Wadhams told KNUS yapper Dan Caplis April 3, without addressing, among other GOP-establishment power plays, the epic backroom deal that cleaned the Republican senatorial primary field for Cory Gardner.

Wadhams also said, if there's any animosity within the Republican party–over divisions about the 2005 Referendum C tax increase, for example–Tea Party activists should just get over it:

Wadhams: If Republicans are still talking about that, they need to get over it. First of all, that's also an attack on former Governor Owens. Fine, disagree with Governor Owens and his administration on Referendum C. But give the guy credit. He's the only guy to win the governorship in 40 years. So he had something special that a whole bunch of other candidates didn't have.

This weekend's state Republican convention will illuminate whether Wadhams is right about oneness within the state GOP, and, whether he's right or wrong, this will likely be the biggest story that emerges from the convention.

It’s The One Thing Cory Gardner Does Well

gardnerryancash

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

AP's Nick Riccardi:

Republican U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner's campaign is reporting it raised $1.4 million during the first three months of the year, almost all of it in March, following his surprise announcement he would challenge Democratic Sen Mark Udall.

Gardner raised $1.24 million in March and has $2.1 million in cash available. Udall raised more than $2 million during the first quarter of the year and has $5.9 million available. But the senator was raising funds for the full three months. Udall campaign spokesman Chris Harris said Wednesday that the campaign raised the majority of its total, $1.4 million, in March.

It makes sense that Sen. Mark Udall would have raised the bulk of his $2 million in March, after Cory Gardner's entry into the race moved Colorado up on everybody's lists of priorities. Gardner's $1.2 million in a month of fundraising keeps pace with Udall from his moment of entry, and that's why he was recruited for this race. Gardner's long train of issue baggage doesn't distinguish him from the other Republicans he pushed aside to get in this race, but his ability to raise all the money he'll need certainly does.

The other part of the Gardner fundraising dynamo story, who's giving, won't be available until his quarterly report is published in detail. But we suspect that will also be noteworthy.

Ryan Budget Barely Passes; Colo. GOP Delegation All Vote Yes

UPDATE: Mike Coffman's Democratic opponent Andrew Romanoff responds:

The Ryan budget does not reflect the values most Americans share. It would force middle-class families to pay more in taxes, students to pay more for college, and seniors to pay more for health care. The House I led balanced the budget every year. But we didn’t do so on the back of the middle class. Some estimates suggest the Ryan plan would cost the country as many as three million jobs. Among the other casualties: 170,000 at-risk children, who would lose access to Head Start.

The winners? Those in the highest income bracket, pharmaceutical manufacturers and corporations that offshore their employees.

If you’re serious about growing the economy, you don’t eliminate job training. You eliminate tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.

If you’re serious about balancing the budget, you allow Medicare to negotiate deeper discounts in prescription-drug prices – instead of sticking seniors with higher bills.

If you’re serious about strengthening the middle class, you vote against the Ryan budget. 

—–

Gardner Ryan Budget

Cory Gardner loves him some Paul Ryan

As the National Journal reports, the latest "Ryan Budget" has passed the House (barely). All of Colorado's Republican Members of Congress voted 'YES' on the budget — Reps. Cory Gardner, Mike Coffman, Scott Tipton, and Doug Lamborn.

The House on Thursday narrowly passed Rep. Paul Ryan's Republican budget carrying $5.1 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years without closing tax loopholes, as Ryan and other GOP leaders averted a potentially embarrassing defeat on the bill because of party defections.

The measure passed 219 to 205, with 12 Republicans joining all Democrats in voting no. A swing of just seven Republican votes would have defeated the measure…

…Even some Republicans acknowledge passage of the Ryan budget is more an aspirational declaration of their party's priorities and vision of government spending.

But the vote Thursday showed that it is not necessarily a reflection of all House Republicans' vision. Some conservative defections were anticipated.

Having already flip-flopped on major issues such as Personhood, we're a little surprised to see both Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman sticking with Rep. Paul Ryan on a vote that will almost certainly hurt them with General Election voters.

Gardner’s hollow campaign narrative

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Political campaigns love to develop a narrative and connect it to everything they say and do. But sometimes they overdo it, and the campaign narrative suddenly looks cramped.

Thanks to reporting by multiple media outlets, GOP senatorial candidate Cory Gardner's all-consuming Obamacare narrative is already smelling overdone and forced. And it's not just because Obamacare appears to be working.

Take, for example, Gardner's foundational story about deciding to enter the Senate race.

Gardner: I thought about reconsidering running for the U.S. Senate, but it really picked up last year when we received our healthcare cancellation notice.

If that's true, and Gardner has said this numerous times, then Gardner's thoughts about entering the race "really picked up" in August, six months before he told The Denver Post in February that he was launching his Senate campaign against Udall.

So Gardner left his Republican opponents floundering for six months, even though he had publicly announced June 28, three months earlier, that he would not run against Udall in part because he wanted to get out of the way of his opponents who were "making their decisions" about running.

More doubts about Gardner's foundational Obamacare campaign-origin story surfaced when Politico reported that Gardner decided to enter the race after seeing the results of a poll conducted by Republicans in Washington DC.

That was January, about five months after Gardner got his letter outlining his options for coverage under Obamacare.

January was also the time period when Gardner stepped up his attacks on Udall, as if his campaign against Udall was suddenly in motion. Gardner sent a Jan. 9 letter from his congressional office to the Colorado Division of Insurance asking questions about it's interactions with Udall’s office. In mid-January, Gardner asked his own congressional committee to investigate. Gardner's a member of the Commerce committee. And Then the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which, according to Politico, conducted the poll convincing Gardner to run for Senate, sent a Jan. 17 letter to Udall, with more questions.

This timeline, casting serious doubts on Gardner's story that his Obamacare letter pushed him into the race, was constructed with the record produced by journalists covering Gardner, day-to-day, month-to-month. It's a small testament to why political reporting is important and how it creates a picture of a candidate for office for us to contrast with the messaging of his campaign.

The “Great Social Experiment” or “Leadership”?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

"This is going to be one of the great social experiments of this century"
~Governor John Hickenlooper

 

Yesterday's senate hearing on SB14-177 and SB14-178 drew a standing-room-only crowd; one that ultimately demanded an overflow room for the observers and witnesses.  The attendees were a broad swath of Colorado citizens: mother and child, medical refugees desperate to find a remedy for their child's condition; attorneys, social workers, business owners, political activists, lobbyists, and myself as the sole farmer in the room. It was an afternoon of passionate testimony by medical marijuana activists who see the bill as a subtle, some may say "backroom" attempt,  to recriminalize the use and or possession of cannabis under section 18-18-102 of the Colorado statute.  The vague language of the proposed bill caused confusion even amongst the law enforcement and social workers who provided testimony for both the proponents and the opposition. 

I'm forever in awe of the breadth and depth of the human and social capacity that Colorado possesses.  The testimony by Jeri Shepard, a Greeley attorney, was compelling.  Jeri went point by salient point, deconstructing the myths around legalization, she offered to the members of the Judiciary Committee they read the book, "The New Jim Crow", an exercise she had participated in as a group Lenten exercise.  If one was measuring the prudence of Coloradans ending prohibition in 2012 by Jeri's testimony, you wouldn't describe our efforts as "a great social experiment".  You would call it "leadership".

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Sad Truth About the Vanishing Middle in Congress

As our friends at "The Fix" report:

In the last three decades, the number of members in the middle in the House dropped from 344 (79 percent of the House) in 1982  to four (.9 percent of the House) in 2013.  As the slide suggests, redistricting — the decennial re-drawing of the nation's Congressional lines — plays a major role in that decline. The last two nationwide re-draws have largely been incumbent protection efforts, making Republican districts more Republican and Democratic districts more Democratic. Self-sorting — the growing tendency of people to live around like-minded people — is also a major factor in the disappearance of the ideological middle in the House…

Taken together, there are four — FOUR — members of the ideological middle out of the 535 members of the House and Senate combined. That comes out to approximately .7 percent of the entire Congress. In 1982, by way of comparison, more than 75 percent of Members of Congress were part of the ideological middle. So, in the last 30 years, the middle has lost 74 percent of its membership in Congress.

To underscore this point, check out the graphic below:

 

NationalJournal-Middle

Dang

 

More Grandstanding in Garfield County

On Tuesday, Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky and biologist Dr. Rob Ramey testified at a House Natural Resource Committee on a number of bills that would amend the Endangered Species Act.

If both those names sound familiar, it’s because it’s not the first time we’ve heard from both of them. Commissioner Jankovsky has been under pressure for paying out-of-state consultants, like American Stewards of Liberty, hundreds of thousands in taxpayers’ dollars for consulting fees to plan and adopt an alternative sage grouse plan—a plan seemingly headed for the trash bucket at BLM and USFWS offices.

One of the consultants that Commissioner Jankovsky hired to draft an alternative Sage Grouse proposal was none other than biologist-for-hire Dr. Rob Ramey. Dr. Ramey has made the point for years that scientific information should be public information.

In his testimony yesterday Dr. Ramey claimed, “when data are not publicly accessible, legitimate scientific inquiry is effectively eliminated as no third party can independently reproduce the results. Such secrecy does not further the goal of species recovery. Such secrecy also puts the evidentiary basis of some resource agency decisions outside the realm of science and in clear violation of the Information Quality Act.”

That’s an interesting take, but one not grounded in reality. In fact, Dr. Ramey consistently finds himself lambasting any science other than his own, which is probably why he’s been routinely hired by industry associations to counter any government findings.

It’s also interesting Dr. Ramey would bring up the idea of information quality.  In 2007, Dr. Ramey said in a Congressional hearing that in order to better make ESA listing decisions the government should “take steps to eliminate financial and other conflicts of interest in Recovery Teams and peer reviews.”  Ramey’s involvement with the American Petroleum Institute and the Western Energy Alliance seems like a clear conflict of interest and a relationship that could lead to a real lack of information quality.

Instead of grandstanding and reciting campaign talking points, our local and national elected officials should be spending their time working with all stakeholders to avoid a listing. Anything but this is a surefire way to an ESA listing. And that’s bad news for Westerners.

Will 2014 Be Rep. Doug Lamborn’s Final Year in Congress?

Doug Lamborn (R).

Doug Lamborn (R).

As Megan Schrader of the Colorado Springs Gazette reports:

Retired Gen. Irv Halter, Democratic candidate for the 5th Congressional District, has released his latest campaign figures ahead of the deadline, and the show that he's brought in just over $165,000 in the first quarter of 2014…

[Campaign Manager Ethan] Susseles said – to date – the campaign has raised almost three-times more than any of Lamborn's other general election challengers. Halter has raised a total of almost $341,000.

Halter will have $217,432 cash on hand when the official campaign finance report is filed with the Federal Election Commission on April 15, Susseles said.

Fundraising reports in the Republican-dominated CD-5 are starting to become hotly-anticipated, particularly with Republican Bentley Rayburn now challenging incumbent Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn for the GOP nomination. Lamborn ended 2013 with just slightly more cash-on-hand than Democrat Irv Halter, but he had to scramble to get there when you consider that his campaign had a measly $28,000 in the bank after Q2 (2013).

But why might Lamborn lose in 2014 when he has fought off challenges before? It's simple: there's too many hurdles to overcome this year.

Retired military officers have eye on CO-5

Irv Halter (D-left) and Bentley Rayburn (R-right).

Lamborn has always had to fight off challenges since he was first elected in a six-way Republican Primary in 2006, but this year he faces perhaps the greatest threat to his re-election efforts. The Republican-led Congress is the most-disliked institution in the history of polling, and Lamborn has certainly earned his place in the lowest tier of the lowest tier when it comes to effectiveness. Lamborn is also hampered by being absolutely terrible at raising money, and now he's going to have to work extra hard to bring cash in the door with an unexpected June Primary just around the corner (assuming Rayburn makes threshold at the CD-5 Republican assembly). 

There's absolutely no arguing that CD-5 is a solid Republican district that the GOP should never lose (at least until the next redistricting in 2021). If a Democrat were to win in a General Election, the seat would almost certainly fall back into Republican hands in 2016. But we think there is a real chance that Lamborn could lose his seat in 2014. Lamborn has been more dysfunctional than usual in the last 12 months, and his support for shutting down the government last fall will definitely hurt him at the polls (in both June and November). With such a large military presence, no Congressional district in Colorado relies as much on the federal government for employment — and negative ads hitting Lamborn for siding with Party over District will be devastating.

Lamborn has dealt with Rayburn as a Primary foe in both 2006 and 2008, but there were always other candidates to split voters. This year Rayburn will face Lamborn mano-a-mano, and that scares Lamborn for two reasons: (1) Lamborn would probably have lost a 2008 Primary if either Rayburn or Jeff Crank had dropped out of the running, so there is a precedent for concern, and (2) the very fact that Rayburn could enter the race just two weeks before the CD-5 assembly is evidence of how little love there is for Lamborn among even Republican caucus-goers. In any other Congressional district in Colorado, it would be ludicrous to think that someone could pose a serious challenge to an incumbent by entering the field so late in the game; that this is even possible in CD-5 speaks volumes about Lamborn's approval in the district.

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Will Beauprez be banned from Saturday’s GOP convention, like Norton was in 2010?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

beauprezballot1

Delegates at the state Republican convention will vote Saturday to pick one or more of the GOP gubernatorial candidates who will appear on the primary election June 24.

But delegates will not have the option of voting for Bob Beauprez, who's the only Republican GOP gubernatorial candidate who's decided to skip Saturday's convention and rely only on petitioning onto the June primary ballot.

The question is, will Beauprez be told not to attend the convention, like failed Senate candidate Jane Norton was in 2010 when she decided to forgo a vote at the assembly? Not only was her presence banned, but so were any Norton banners, signs, and literature. Presumably, Norton could have stood on the public sidewalk outside the convention hall, and indeed her signs were scattered out there in 2010, but Norton stayed away.

Then State GOP Chair Dick Wadhams was clear that no whiff of Norton would be tolerated, telling The Denver Post's Allison Sherry at the time:

Wadhams: “Any candidates for statewide office who forgo the caucus assembly process will not be allowed to speak,” Wadhams said. “They will not be allowed to have banners or signs or literature at the state convention. If the convention is not good enough to participate in, it’s not good enough for them to have a presence. That’s their decision.”

Media outlets have yet to determine if the same rules will be enforced, which makes for an interesting angle on equal-pay week. An email to GOP Chair Ryan Call seeking clarification was not immediately returned.

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Democrat Equal Pay Spin Backfires

Liberal hack group Progress Now Colorado thought they had a live one on so-called "Equal Pay Day."

As women across America observed Equal Pay Day, commemorating the extra days a woman must work in order to match the annual income of men, ProgressNow Colorado, the state’s largest online progressive advocacy organization, condemned votes by Reps. Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman against equal pay for women in the workplace.

“Equal Pay Day falls in April, because that’s how much longer it would take working women to make as much as men in a year,” said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. “Unfortunately, Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman both voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act in 2013–popular, common sense legislation to help level the playing field for women in the workplace.”

But as it turns out, the joke's on Democrats. Colorado Peak Politics:

In the Republican Rep. Cory Gardner versus liberal Udall match up, when we look at Gardner’s most recently reported salaries for non-shared workers who were with him for the entire pay period, we see female staffers who work with Gardner earn an average of $1.04 to every dollar that a Gardner male staffer makes. That’s nearly 25% more than Udall pays his female staffers compared to his male staffers.  The absurdity of a man who “fights” for equal pay, but can’t pay his own female staffers a fair wage is off the charts.

Even more impressive are the numbers that come from Republican Rep. Mike Coffman, who is in the closest House race across the nation.   When we here at the Peak crunched his female staff salaries, they are making an incredible $1.12 for every one dollar Coffman male staffers are making.  Perhaps if Udall and his fellow Democrats focused on treating their own employees equally first, then we wouldn’t have to legislate a solution.  It shouldn’t be that hard, as two of Colorado’s top Republicans show how easy it is to do.

Who stands up for women making what they deserve? REPUBLICANS, that's who!

Who hypocritically attacks others while shortchanging their own women employees?

DEMOCRATS, THAT'S WHO! I call on Democrats to end the war on women's pocketbooks.

Colorado Supremes slap down Gessler

Today the Colorado Supreme Court held that Secretary of State Scott Gessler usurped legal authority when he passed an "emergency" rule that purported to allow unelected officials to simply ignore duly cast ballots for a school district director merely because they felt the director was not "qualified for office."

The court quite rightly held that Gessler was usurping the authority of the courts in allowing election officials to make such fundamental decisions.

If the court had ruled the other way, it would be like allowing those 2012 attempts in Arizona and elsewhere by local "birther" election officials to keep Barack Obama off the ballot.

The case is Hanlen v. Gessler, 13 SA 306:

http://www.cobar.org/opinions/opinion.cfm?opinionid=9312&courtid=2

 

 

Tea-party radio host catches Beauprez pandering to different audiences

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

“Both Ways” Bob Beauprez (right).

If you really want to understand the dynamic playing out right now among conservative candidates battling each other to defeat their primary-election opponents, I might suggest you tune to conservative talk radio, even if it's only for the next couple of months while the primary process unfolds.

You might ask, as a friend did the other day, "Does listening to talk radio make you want to crawl in there and strangle someone?"

No. Not at all.

Take for example, KLZ radio host Ken Clark's conversation with gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez the other day.

Clark asked Beauprez how he's going to get the support of grassroots conservatives when "you make statements like we-have-to-legislate-from-the-middle."

"I don't even remember saying it," Beauprez responded, "but I'll take you at your word, Ken.'"

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Mark Udall Crushes Q1: $2.07 Million Raised

The smile of a man who raised over $2 million in Q1.

The smile of a man who raised over $2 million in Q1.

AP's Nick Riccardi:

Sen. Mark Udall's campaign says it raised $2 million in the first quarter of the year, transforming the Democrat's re-election bid against a tough opponent from a low-key contest into a top-tier national race.

The campaign will file reports showing it has $5.9 million cash on hand to fight off Republican Rep. Cory Gardner, who made a surprise entry into the race more than halfway through the quarter…

Polls have shown Udall narrowly ahead of most Republicans in Colorado. After Gardner's entry, national conservative and liberal groups began airing ads in the state. Analysts predict the race will be one of the most expensive in the nation.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols:

Udall, a Democrat facing a strong challenge from Republican Congressman Cory Gardner, raised $2,068,205.47 in the year’s first fundraising quarter.

That brings his total cash on hand to $5,904,534.45 in what’s become a top-ten race that could determine control of the Senate.

It's worth noting that much of Q1 went by without a serious challenger for incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, with Republican opponent Cory Gardner only entering the race in the last week of February. Such a massive haul in a quarter spent mostly without a serious opponent speaks to Udall's strong position–which should only become stronger as urgency builds around this race. This is not to say that Gardner will want for money: we assume his campaign went all out trying to produce an impressive Q1 number as well, and we expect Gardner's campaign to keep pace all the way through election season.

But for now, by orders of magnitude, advantage Udall.

Immigration Rights Activists Rally in Pueblo – and Everywhere

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Republican and Democratic politicians alike were denounced by the 50 activists rallying at Bessemer Park in Pueblo on April 5, 2014, as part of a national Day of Action on Immigration. Barack Obama has deported more immigrants than any other President; Cory Gardner, Scott Tipton, and Mike Coffman have all voted to defund programs to make it easier for undocumented "Dreamers" to stay in the USA, and have repeatedly voted against comprehensive immigration reform.  Ken Buck and Tom Tancredo were also called out for their unrelenting history of opposition to not only immigration, but immigrants. All of the Republicans have opposed a path to citizenship, calling it "amnesty".

In Denver, activists rallied in Civic Center Park and on the 16th St. Mall (below): (Photo by Ray Rodriguez)

Elsewhere in Colorado, Summit County, and  Durango, saw rallies,waves of protests, support for youth and families facing deportation proceedings. On Saturday, the call across Colorado and the United States was  "Not one More Deportation!"

 

Under the Obama Presidency, more than two million people have been deported, most of them for low-level crimes, such as traffic offenses. Sunday talk shows debated whether or not Obama really is the "Deporter in Chief" On  Steve Kornacki's show, "UP", the focus was on how Obama's high deportation numbers may affect Latino voter turnout in upcoming elections.

Victoria De Francesca-Soto posited that the immigration numbers may be exaggerated statistically, as now everyone who is caught near the border, but turned back immediately,  is counted in deportation numbers. De Francesca also pointed out that immigration reform may not necessarily be the top issue among all Latino voters; for most, jobs and health care reform are higher priorities.

Yet, Gabriella Domenzain, another guest on Kornacki's show, said. "Four out of ten Latino voters have a personal relationship with someone who is being deported, and that changes you." People point to the unequal enforcement of immigration law – Canadian citizen Justin Bieber was convicted of driving drunk; yet he is not being deported, and, every year 400,000 Latinos, with similar or lesser convictions, are formally deported, for a total of two million under Obama.

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