Archive for May 4th, 2011

May 4, 2011

5/4 – GlobalAtlanta – Latino Organizations Support ACVB Resolution to Stop HB87

Latino Organizations Support ACVB Resolution to Stop HB87.

Latino Organizations Support ACVB Resolution to Stop HB87
Atlanta – 05.04.11

Two leading Latino organizations in Atlanta support the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau’s resolution opposing Georgia’s pending immigration legislation.

The CEOs of both the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Latin American Association told GlobalAtlanta that the decision of the bureau’s executive committee helped underscore the threat that the legislation would have on the state’s convention and tourism business.

The convention and visitor’s bureau passed a resolution April 29 opposing the legislation saying that Atlanta’s reputation as a “welcoming” city would be harmed.

“I applaud the decision. It is the right thing to do,” said Millie Irizarry, CEO of the association. “I’m sure they are concerned about the economic impact of the legislation on Georgia’s economy, especially because similar legislation has had such a negative effect on Arizona.”

Tisha Tallman, president and CEO of the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said that she still hoped Gov. Nathan Deal would refrain from signing the bill.

“There will continue to be efforts expressing opposition to the legislation,” she added. “It would be such a positive step to put this behind us and move forward. It is important that the economic recovery proceed and that we continue to be thinking about growing globally.”

Both executives said their organizations have contacted Mr. Deal’s office encouraging the governor not to approve the legislation even though he has said that he would.

The association provides a wide variety of humanitarian services to Atlanta’s Latino communities. The Hispanic chamber is one of the largest Hispanic chambers in the U.S. with 1,300 members.

Other organizations opposed to the legislation for economic reasons include the Georgia Farm Bureau, the Georgia Restaurant Association, the Government Contractors Association and the Georgia Agribusiness Council.

In addition to their fears about the economic impact of the legislation, the executives expressed their concerns about the humanitarian issues involved.

They said that immigration issues should be resolved by the federal government and expressed concern for the impact that the state legislation would have on immigrant families with members who have lived in the U.S. for many years without proper documentation.

“From the time of the Olympics, immigrants were recruited came here,” Ms. Irizarry said of the 1996 Summer Olympics. “There now are many families with mixed union status. We need to take into consideration the families that are here and deal with them in a humanitarian way.”

Ms. Irizarry said that the association was in the process of putting together a white paper that would cover in depth its concerns about the legislation.

House Bill 87, which the General Assembly passed last month, mandates that companies with more than 10 full-time employees register with the federal program E-Verify to check the legal status of new hires and creates the offense of “aggravated identity theft” for the use of false information.

It also authorizes law enforcement officers to check the legal status of suspected criminals if they are unable to provide identification and makes harboring an illegal immigrant an offense.

To learn more about the Georgia Hispanic Chamber, go to  http://www.ghcc.org/  and http://www.thelaa.org/ for the Latin American Association.

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May 4, 2011

5/4 – WSB(Video) – Immigration Bill Could Spark Tourism Boycott – News Story – WSB Atlanta

Immigration Bill Could Spark Tourism Boycott – News Story – WSB Atlanta.

locally based human rights group has canceled plans to hold its biannual conference in Atlanta in response to a proposed state immigration law it finds offensive.”Because of this backwards legislation, we are compelled to pull the conference from the city,” said Ajamu Baraka, Executive Director of the US Human Rights network.”It’s a human rights issue,” he explained, to Channel 2 Action News Reporter Manuel Bojorquez about the decision.The move is in response to GA House Bill 87, a measure that would empower police to check the immigration status of certain suspects, and make businesses use a federal verification system to ensure eligibility of new hires.The US Human Rights Network expects others will follow and join a national boycott if Governor Nathan Deal signs HB 87 into law, which the governor has said he intends to do.”I think there will be economic consequences of this boycott, even more so than we saw in Arizona,” Baraka said.That’s a concern for the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau.Its members sent a resolution to Deal, urging him to oppose the measure.The resolution calls the legislation “unwelcoming” and says it could “tarnish Atlanta’s reputation as one of America’s most welcoming cities.”The Bureau says Atlanta attracts 34 million visitors annually, and that tourism generates $10 billion in visitor spending each year.”I don’t think it’s gonna be that much of a negative impact,” said Phil Kent, spokesman for Americans for Immigration Control.”I think Atlanta and Georgia are very welcoming,” he said, adding that HB 87 is necessary for the state to deal with illegal immigration.As for the boycott, Kent said: “It’s economic blackmail and I think most people, whether they agree or disagree with this bill, don’t appreciate blackmail and extortion.”The US Human Rights Network does not see it that way, and is currently looking for a new home for their December conference which was set to draw 600 people, Baraka said.
May 4, 2011

5/4 – ajc – Pro & Con: Should Gov. Deal sign into law Georgia’s immigration bill? | ajc.com

Pro & Con: Should Gov. Deal sign into law Georgia’s immigration bill?  | ajc.com.

Opinion 5:24 p.m. Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Yes.

Arizona-style laws must be enforced in absence of federal action.

By Buddy Carter

Inspired and crafted after similar legislation passed in Arizona a few years ago, HB 87, if signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal as expected, makes our state one of the toughest in the nation in dealing with this national problem.

HB 87 came about as the culmination of a joint House and Senate study committee that met on numerous occasions last year and was charged with studying the social and economic consequences of illegal immigration in Georgia.

The findings of the study committee were staggering, with some estimates of the direct costs to state and local taxpayers running as high as $2.4 billion, burdening every segment of our state government and impacting critical services such as health care, transportation, k-12 education and transportation.

Under HB 87, all businesses in Georgia with more than 10 employees will be required to use the free and easy federal E-Verify system. This accurate, Internet-based database is designed to verify the eligibility to legally work in the U.S. and is already used by more than 16,000 Georgia businesses.

HB 87 also provides new tools for law enforcement to handle immigration issues, such as greater opportunities to prosecute those who knowingly harbor or transport illegal immigrants in our state, or who knowingly entice entrance of illegal immigrants into our state. It also gives law enforcement officers the ability to identify illegal immigrants during the course of an investigation and penalizes government officials who fail to enforce state laws related to immigration.

As expected, many have been critical of HB 87, citing possible economic protests such as boycotts and have called on the governor to veto the measure.

As one who voted for HB 87, I certainly hope and expect that Deal will follow through on his promise to sign the measure so that it will become law.

Voting for HB 87 was both easy and difficult.

Agriculture is still the leading industry in our state and depends heavily on an available workforce. It is a major concern for all Georgians, especially those of us serving in the Legislature.

As our rural legislators so clearly articulated during debate of the bill, there’s only a certain window of opportunity to harvest crops, and you must have personnel to perform those duties. Certainly none of us wants to negatively impact this vital Georgia industry.

We also recognize that we all came from immigrants and that our forefathers came here looking for a better life in this great land of opportunity.

But more importantly, we recognize that our basic responsibility is to follow the law, which is the cornerstone of our free republic. HB 87 moves us in that direction.

Although many may disagree on this issue, most of us agree that this is a federal problem that has been ignored.

Last week, in an interview with an Atlanta television station, President Barack Obama called HB 87 “a mistake” and said we shouldn’t have 50 different immigration laws across the country.

Without a comprehensive federal law dealing with this issue, states are left with no other choice but to deal with it themselves. With HB 87 in Georgia, we’ve done just that.

State Sen. Buddy Carter, R-Savannah, represents coastal Georgia.

No.

Erecting walls is against our common faith and American heritage.

By Joanna M. Adams

Perhaps the most compelling story Jesus ever told was about a man who had been beaten and left for dead on the side of the road.

Several people walked right by him, paying no attention, but then along came a man from Samaria, himself a stranger in the area.

He asked no questions about why the man was in the ditch. He just cleaned the man up, bandaged his wounds and carried him to an inn where he paid for the man’s lodging and promised to come back with more funds if they were needed. To the ones who originally heard the story, Jesus said, “Now you go and do likewise.”

The man in the ditch is not identified in any way. He could have been anybody: friend or foe, an illegal immigrant or an heir of the house of David.

But the Samaritan was not concerned about this. And he certainly did not request to see the man’s papers before offering help.

As our governor and our state consider the signing of legislation that will ostracize many of our immigrant neighbors, we have to ask — is this the way any of us would want to be treated? Is this the “likewise” Jesus reference?

There are many different and complicated reasons for people’s feelings on what should be done on a national or state level about immigration.

So often, those reasons are grounded in our life experiences.

For many of us in Georgia, our background includes a great deal of time in a house of worship and within the hopes of our parents that we would grow up to become empathetic, ethical and caring adults.

The Good Samaritan story teaches all of us a lesson. The person in the ditch was ignored but finally helped by a stranger, without regard for his ancestry.

My faith friends Imam Plemon T. El-Amin of Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam, the Rev. Joseph L. Roberts Jr. of Ebenezer Baptist Church and Rabbi Alvin M. Sugarman of The Temple and I implore our fellow Georgians to consider the diverse teachings of multiple faiths, which share common ground in helping those who are neighbors or strangers in our communities.

In the Quran, there is a similar notion in Chapter 24, verse 22: “Let not those among you endued with grace and amplitude of means resolve by oath against helping their kinsmen, or those in want, or those who have migrated from their homes in the cause of God. Let them forgive and overlook, do you not wish that God should forgive you? For God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”

In the Hebrew Bible we read about this idea of welcoming others in Leviticus: “When a stranger dwells among you in your land, do not taunt him. The stranger who dwells with you shall be like a native among you, and you shall love him like yourself, for you were alien in the land of Egypt.”

Today we need to remember these words and their meaning as our governor and our state consider signing into law an immigration bill that will have drastically negative effects on our communities and our economy.

We need to focus on reaching a higher middle ground, not putting up a wall.

The Rev. Joanna M. Adams is a Presbyterian pastor. Also contributing: Imam Plemon T. El-Amin of Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam; the Rev. Joseph L. Roberts, Jr., Ebenezer Baptist Church; and Rabbi Alvin M. Sugarman.

May 4, 2011

5/3 – USHRN – U.S. Human Rights Network Announces Plan to Move National Conference if HB 87 is Signed

For Immediate Release
May 4, 2011
Contact: Ajamu Baraka, 404.588.9761
 
U.S. Human Rights Network Announces Plan
To Move National Conference If HB 87 Signed
 
Atlanta, GA – The US Human Rights Network (USHRN), an Atlanta-based coalition of more than 300 organizations from around the country, announced today that it will move its 2011 national conference outside the state of Georgia if Gov. Nathan Deal follows through with his intent to sign controversial anti-immigration bill HB 87.
 
The decision to move the conference, scheduled for December in Atlanta, is part of a groundswell of opposition to the bill from organizations throughout Georgia, encouraged by the leadership of Somos Georgia. Somos Georgia is a growing movement of Georgians committed to immigrant, racial and economic justice and they have called for a general boycott of the state should the bill become law. “We cannot sit idly by while the state of Georgia promotes widespread violations of human and civil rights,” says USHRN Executive Director Ajamu Baraka. “Unless Gov. Deal vetoes this bill or until it is repealed, the Network will honor its commitment to the rights of all individuals by taking its business elsewhere.”
 
Provisions of HB 87, the so-called Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011, violate multiple international human rights agreements that the United States has ratified. The bill also creates a series of new criminal offenses targeting employers and residents who simply offer help to immigrants in need. “This bill is unacceptable on many, many levels,” says Baraka.
 
Georgia’s law, passed by the General Assembly in April, mirrors legislation passed in Arizona last year that has thus far failed to withstand court challenges and has cost the state tens of millions of dollars in revenue from tourist and business boycotts, legal fees and other expenses. “The projections of economic benefits to the state of Georgia used to justify this bill are not only inflated, they’re completely false,” Baraka says. “The last thing that Georgia needs in these difficult economic times is to follow Arizona’s path and become a national pariah.”
 
The USHRN will not take formal steps to identify an alternate conference location until Gov. Deal makes his final decision. But if the bill does become law, Baraka says, moving the conference out of state will be only the first of many steps the organization will take to ensure that Georgia pays a steep price for its action: “The human rights of all people will be central to every economic decision we make.”
 
For more information on the USHRN, please visit www.ushrnetwork.org.
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May 4, 2011

5/3 – Huffington Post – Bill Ong Hing: Bin Laden Was a Pretext for Anti-Immigrant Policies

Bill Ong Hing: Bin Laden Was a Pretext for Anti-Immigrant Policies.

Bill Ong Hing

Bill Ong Hing

Posted: 05/ 3/11 06:12 PM ET

Addressing the challenge of undocumented immigration was a front-burner issue in the summer 2001. A day before 9/11, Mexico President Vicente Fox was making demands that the United States provide some type of relief for undocumented Mexican workers in the United States. President Bush was receptive, pledging a legalization bill by the end of the year. That all changed when the terrorist attacks pushed progressive immigration reform off the table, and the new era of viewing immigration through a national security lens provided a license for immigrant bashing.

For anti-immigrant forces in the United States, 9/11 provided a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to use the tragic events to draw linkages with virtually every aspect of their nativist agenda. For example, the restrictionist Center for Immigration Studies argued that “immigration is central” to homeland security because terrorist “operatives have to enter and work in the United States.” The Bush White House helped lay the foundation for the neo-nativist agenda in its legislative proposals, arguing that our enemies could “take advantage of our freedom and openness by secretly inserting terrorists into our country to attack our homeland.”

The events of 9/11 and the ensuing call to action from the anti-immigrant lobby resulted in far-reaching legislative and enforcement actions. These enforcement actions had implications not only for suspected terrorists but also for immigrants already in the United States and noncitizens trying to enter as immigrants or with nonimmigrant visas. The Patriot Act passed Congress with near unanimous support, and the president signed it into law a mere six weeks after 9/11. The vast powers embodied in the law provide expanded authority to search, monitor, and detain citizens and noncitizens alike, but its implementation preyed most heavily on noncitizen Arabs, Muslims, and Sikhs.

To further emphasize how future visa issuance and immigration enforcement would be screened through the lens of national security, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) was subsumed into the new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by the end of 2002. Previously, the INS was under the control of the attorney general’s Justice Department — an enforcement-minded institution, but now clamping down on noncitizens in the name of national security was institutionalized. The new cabinet-level department merged all or parts of 22 federal agencies, with a combined budget of $40 billion and 170,000 workers, representing the biggest government reorganization in 50 years.

As though the Patriot Act did not provide enough authority to target certain noncitizens, Congress used the backdrop of 9/11 to enact even more enforcement-related immigration laws in early 2005. In response to the 9/11 Commission report, Congress drafted legislation to implement Commission recommendations. During debates on the legislation, several members of Congress, most notably Representative James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin) argued for the inclusion of a number of contentious immigration measures.

These measures went beyond the Commission’s specific recommendations, nearly preventing the 9/11 Commission legislation’s passage. His immigration-related proposals would expand the government’s authority to arrest, detain, and deport immigrants; restrict judicial review and oversight; and reduce the number of documents immigrants may use to establish their identity. Sensenbrenner also wanted to include rewards for immigrant bounty hunters and a provision barring states from issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented aliens. Although Sensenbrenner did not get his way in 2004, by 2005, he pushed through the Real ID Act that required all states to issue driver’s licenses that include a “common machine-readable technology,” essentially a de facto national identity card.

Perhaps the failure and ill-advisedness of the use of immigration policies to catch terrorists is best illustrated by the results of the special registration (or NSEERS) program. The call-in program required male noncitizens from 25 mostly Arab and Muslim countries to register with immigration authorities between November 2002 and April 2003. About 83,000 men came forward, and nearly 13,000 were placed in deportation proceedings. Many (the actual number is unknown) were in fact deported for minor immigration violations, but no one was charged with crimes related to terrorism. The INS held closed hearings for more than 600 immigrants because the government designated the detainees to be of “special interest” to the government — the detainees were Muslim. Again, the call-in program uncovered no actual terrorists.

What is the result of the immigration-related, anti-terrorism initiatives? Certainly not the capture of terrorists. Instead, the initiatives have created an atmosphere of anti-immigrant fervor which suggests that it is okay to be biased against Latinos, Arab-Americans, and Muslims. Vigilante racism by private citizens attempting to de-Americanize immigrants of color can become quite ugly. At one point after 9/11, hate crimes against Muslims soared, rising more than 1,500 percent. And discrimination in the workplace climbed after September 11.

Our government’s major successes in apprehending terrorists have not come from post-September 11 immigration initiatives but from other efforts such as international intelligence gathering, law enforcement cooperation, and information provided by arrests made abroad. A few noncitizens detained through these immigration initiatives have been characterized as terrorists, but the only charges actually brought against them were for routine immigration violations or ordinary crimes.

In recognition of the overwhelming numbers of law-abiding, hardworking immigrants in our midst, the 9/11 Commission reminded Americans:

Our borders and immigration system, including law enforcement, ought to send a message of welcome, tolerance, and justice to members of immigrant communities in the United States and in their countries of origin. We should reach out to immigrant communities.

Our immigration policy makers have ignored that recommendation.Targeting noncitizens of a certain ethnic, religious, or racial background or closing our borders to newcomers or visitors is a national security strategy that does not make our country safe. In fact, those strategies may diminish the opportunity to engage newcomer communities in assisting with smarter law enforcement approaches to public safety.

Because the 9/11 hijackers were foreign-born, cracking down on noncitizens — especially those who looked like or were of the same religion as the hijackers — made sense to some. But the crackdown apprehended no terrorists. By falling for the temptation of profiling, we actually sacrificed the fundamental values and principles of openness and inclusion that we ought to have been guarding. Those like Osama bin Laden who would do us harm won an important battle when we chose to target Arab, Muslim, South Asian and other people of color in our communities. We damaged a part of America, shaming ourselves in the process.

Follow Bill Ong Hing on Twitter: www.twitter.com/immprof

May 4, 2011

5/1 – SFGate – Secure Communities destroys public trust

Secure Communities destroys public trust.

S.F. Sheriff Michael Hennessey wants to opt out of the Secure Communities program that has led to deportations.

As the sheriff of San Francisco for more than 30 years, I know that maintaining public safety requires earning community trust. We rely heavily on the trust and cooperation of all community members – including immigrants – to come forward and report crimes, either as victims or as witnesses. Otherwise, crimes go unreported – and this affects everyone, citizens and noncitizens alike. It also leads to “street justice,” in which residents who are too afraid to go to the police decide to take justice into their own hands, often with deadly result.

San Francisco has always been a city of immigrants. We are proud of our diversity. We value the contributions of immigrants to our community. Law enforcement and other civic leaders work hard to serve all of our residents in an effort to promote the health and safety of our neighborhoods. Unfortunately, Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s controversial Secure Communities program violates this hard-earned trust with immigrant residents. Under this program, the fingerprints of everyone booked into a county jail are conveyed electronically to ICE, which checks them against its own database to see if deportation should be considered. This applies to even a minor matter, such as having no driver’s license in one’s possession in a traffic stop.

This is not an exaggeration or a hypothetical: It happened here in San Francisco just a few months ago to a man with no criminal record whatsoever who was placed in federal detention and since has been deported.

The use of fingerprints to initiate immigration scrutiny is of particular concern to victims of domestic violence. In a recent case in San Francisco, a woman called 911 to report domestic violence, but the police arrested both her and her partner. Although no charges were ever filed against the woman, she is now fighting deportation. There should be no penalty for a victim of a crime to call the police.

All it takes is a fingerprint.

It does not matter if the person is innocent because the fingerprints are transmitted to ICE at arrest, prior to criminal court proceedings. ICE’s own data show that 29 percent of people deported because of Secure Communities are classified as non-criminals. The result is often that a child is taken from a parent, or an individual raised since childhood in the United States is deported to the country where he was born but where he has no family and doesn’t even speak the language.

This fear of the arbitrary use of immigration laws is only reinforced when you have a high-ranking ICE official telling law enforcement, “If you don’t have enough evidence to charge someone criminally but you think he’s illegal, we can make him disappear.” This is a quote from James Pendergraph, the former executive director of the ICE Office of State and Local Coordination, who was speaking in 2008 to the Police Foundation’s national conference on immigration issues.

My main criticism of Secure Communities is that it casts too wide a net and scoops up the fingerprints of everyone not born in the United States whether or not they pose a criminal risk. My department has consistently reported felons to ICE for more than a decade, and ICE typically picks up close to 1,000 people from the San Francisco County Jail each year. But I don’t think people should be deported for a traffic ticket or for operating a tamale cart in the Mission.

For these reasons, I have repeatedly asked ICE to allow the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department to opt out of Secure Communities. ICE has not been forthright or truthful in its responses. First, ICE officials said a local community could “opt out” and even prescribed a procedure. When it became clear that San Francisco, Santa Clara and other jurisdictions were interested in opting out, the ICE officials then reversed course and declared that no one could opt out. ICE also refuses to inform local authorities if the agency has released back into the community those previously arrested.

It is vitally important for San Francisco law enforcement to create a bond of trust with all the city’s residents. After all, a majority of San Franciscans are of either Asian or Hispanic descent. This is why I testified in support of the TRUST Act (AB1081, authored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco) in Sacramento last week. This legislation would allow local jurisdictions to choose to not participate in Secure Communities by modifying California’s Secure Communities agreement with ICE. Local jurisdictions cannot and should not be lied to and coerced into doing the work of the federal government. Let the feds enforce national immigration laws and leave local law enforcement out of it.

Michael Hennessey is the sheriff of San Francisco. To comment, go to www.sfgate.com/chronicle/submissions/#1.

This article appeared on page F – 7 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/05/01/INB81J8OCL.DTL#ixzz1LODzLRr7

May 4, 2011

5/3 – CBSAtlanta.com (VIDEO) – Boycotts Of Georgia Already Under Way – Atlanta News Story – WGCL Atlanta

Boycotts Of Georgia Already Under Way – Atlanta News Story – WGCL Atlanta.

Group Cancels Convention In Atlanta

POSTED: 4:48 pm EDT May 3, 2011
UPDATED: 7:59 am EDT May 4, 2011

Watch Now The controversial bill passed this legislative session has not been signed by Gov. Nathan Deal, but groups are already moving forward on threats to boycott Georgia.

The executive director for the U.S. Human Rights Network told CBS Atlanta News it had a convention planned in Atlanta for Dec. 10, but not anymore.

“As a consequence of the legislation, the governor appears ready to sign, we are compelled to have to pull our convention, our meeting, from the state,” Ajamu Baraka said. “We expect it will have a ripple effect. If there are companies that come to this state to Atlanta, they can expect to have active pickets at their events. We have no other choice.”

CBS Atlanta News spoke to some residents who think massive boycotts are wrong.

“The economy is bad enough as it is. We don’t need people boycotting the little,” said resident Vanessa Hinkle.

“I think you are hurting your own city. I understand the immigration bill, how people may feel about it, but you are hurting your own city. You are taking money away from your own city,” said resident Antonio Taylor.

Arizona passed similar legislation last year. Since that time the state has come under fire for what opponents of the bill call racially motivated legislation. According to the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, the state has lost an estimated $150 million in revenue due to boycotts. $90 million of that has been lost in Phoenix alone.

“The governor’s office has estimated it costs the state of Georgia upwards of $2 billion a year in revenue because of illegal immigrants in the state,” said reporter Mike Paluska. “Why would you want to cost other businesses in the state even more money on top of what the governor says is already going out?”

“We don’t accept those numbers,” said Baraka. “In fact, we believe Georgia will lose money because of this immigration bill.

But I think that is a question for the governor and those legislators, something they should think about. Basically, they will be providing harm to some of those workers and we regret that. But, we have no other choice at this point. This is just the beginning of the process. There will be a significant consequence for playing with the lives of immigrants here in Georgia.”

“They should be turned away; that will make a path for our kids and the people unemployed here,” said Taylor. “If they are over here illegally, I think you should turn them away because they are rightfully taking jobs away from people here who need to work.”

Deal’s office said he will sign the bill into law in mid-May.

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