Exposing the Safelink Wireless government cell phone for the poor scam

by editor on March 11, 2009

Today we ran the story of Michelle Obama serving risotto at the soup kitchen down the street from the White House. She was surrounded by poor people frantically snapping photos with their cell phones.

If you’re anything like us (and we understand completely if you don’t want to be) you wondered, how can the poor afford cell phones, fancy ones with cameras? The monthly bills on these things can eat you alive. Is there some sort of free government cell phone service we didn’t know about?

Safelink Wireless Free Government Cell Phones

We were tipped off to the Safelink Wireless website. But please be warned that if you visit this site you are likely to walk away pissed off. Here’s what it says:

“SafeLink Wireless is a government supported program 
that provides a free cell phone and airtime each
 month for income-eligible customers.”

free government cell phone from safelink wireless

Hello? Hello? Can anyone hear us complaining about this outrageous abuse?

“Lifeline Assistance is part of a program that was created by the government to provide discounted or free telephone service to income-eligible consumers. To help bring you this important benefit, SafeLink Wireless is proud to offer Lifeline Service. Through our Lifeline Service you will receive FREE cellular service, a FREE cell phone, and FREE Minutes every month! SafeLink Wireless Service does not cost anything – there are no contracts, no recurring fees and no monthly charges.”

“Any Minutes you do not use will roll-over. Features such as caller ID, call waiting and voicemail are all also included with your service. If you need additional Minutes, you can buy TracFone Airtime Cards at any TracFone retailer Walmart, Walgreens, Family Dollar, etc). SafeLink Airtime Cards will be available soon.”

“Your exact benefits, including the number of free Minutes you will receive, depend on the state you live in.”

Free cell phone from Safelink Wireless: how to qualify

“The process to qualify for Lifeline Service depends on the State you live in. In general, you may qualify if…

  1. You already participate in other State or Federal assistance program such as Federal Public Housing Assistance, Food Stamps and Medicaid. OR
  2. Your total household income is at or below 135% of the poverty guidelines set by your State and/or the Federal Government. AND
  3. No one in your household currently receives Lifeline Service through another phone carrier.
  4. You have a valid United States Postal Address. In order for us to ship you your free phone you must live at a residence that can receive mail from the US Post Office. Sorry, but P.O. Boxes cannot be accepted.

In addition to meeting the guidelines above you will also be required to provide proof of your participation in an assistance program, or proof of your income level.

Un-freakin-believable. Outrageous. Shocking.

The way we read it, this Safelink Wireless program gives you a free cell phone, free monthly service, and free minutes. You qualify even if you make 35% more than the designated “poverty” level or if you’re already getting additional freebies from the government. And we see nothing that indicates you have to be a legal resident of the United States to qualify.

The site is also available in Spanish, leading to the not-too-unreasonable conclusion that a significant percentage of the free cell phones applicants conceivably could be, may be, might be undocumented aliens.

And, for God’s sake, we don’t even want to know how many of those filling out a Safelink application are currently stiffing a bank on a mortgage they never really qualified for in the first place.

We think we’re going to have a stroke. Would someone please call 911 on their free cell phone?

Note: Now Assurance Wireless (Virgin) and ReachOut Wireless (Nexus) are in the game. They plus other minor players account for 8 million government phones in circulation.

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4990 Comments on "Exposing the Safelink Wireless government cell phone for the poor scam"

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fedup
Guest

What does “don’t take no for an answer” mean? If they say no, then what? Ginny-Browne Wait, my rep for FL, didn’t come on board until the count was around 180. But what if I had Pelosi, or another pro-Reserve politician.

This is very much still on topic – as it directly relates to how the free cell-phone programs are birthed. I think we are very much out of time, and ‘voting them out’ at the next election is as wishful as thinking the Goodyear blimp was going to get RP elected. BTW, I donated my full $2300 limit to his campaign.

Aubs
Guest

Actually HR1207 has 234 co-sponsors, so that passed the House by 16 votes so far….now it’s up to the Fed to call in it’s favors, issue bribes, and launch a PR campaign…and possibly expand it’s powers under the guise of “limited transparency”….don’t take no for an answer dude, call your rep……..no one is powerless unless they run out of ideas m8.

Edit: my bad admins and mods….I will stay on topic henceforth:)

Aubs
Guest

I do recall a fellow that had real plans of action to fix all of this tyrannical nonsense…..Ron Paul.

Here’s a plan for us like minded individuals who want to stick to the rule of law instead of the law of the jungle….vote Libertarian..they’re going to be disguised as Republicans…although you will need to do your homework to see who is not just jumping on the bandwagon.

fedup
Guest

Me and about 7 other people voted for him in the general election (under OTHER). The problem with our two-party system, as was demonstrated with the last election, is by the time we get our vote in primaries, most candidates have already dropped out. By the general election, the only choices are the crooks that the establishment has vetted and approved. This is why there will never be any real change.

I love Ron Paul. I get fired up every time I hear his speeches. The fact that he’s calling for the Fed Reserve audit (HR1207) is inspiring – and now there are 180+ co-sponsors. But, rather than calling the Fed to the carpet, the Obama administration and congress is talking about giving the Reserve complete regulatory control over the entire financial system (including non-banks)!! How insane is that? The secret bank-run, 100% private group that prints money out of thin air, is apparently not satisfied enslaving all of America – now they want to control all businesses? And we sit by doing absolutely nothing.

God Bless Ron Paul, but he – even as a congressman – is powerless to stop this runaway train.

fedup
Guest

Karen, I’m sorry you find yourself in this position. There are many local organizations which cater to you specific needs. These non-for-profits, often affiliated with and sponsored by religious organizations have programs in place to help you get your feet on the ground. I trust if the need is great enough, you will find your way to one of them. I personally would love to help you through job placement, and through dontations – but my available income to do this is stretched so thin because of my tax bills. Besides, my $25k I paid in taxes last year, should fulfill my civic duty to care for those that are down on their luck, right?

I know, I’m using this poor woman’s situtation to make a political point – it’s not fair. But imagine if I didn’t have such a huge tax bill. Imagine if most Americans would be moved to help people like Karen because the feel if they don’t no one else will. Unfortunately, becasue the government does give away money (stolen from taxpayers) it breeds resentment among people who might otherwise be more generous.

Again, Karen, I wish you the best of luck. Keep your chin up, and try to find a strong support group in your area.

Joe
Guest

You’re BITCHING about $25K! I KNEW you didn’t make crap! You don’t pay your full amount. YOU ARE TAX SUBSIDIZED! Say thank you to folks like my self that pay more than 20 times more in tax than you!

All you do is go down these posts and bitch and complain about how much you pay and why poor people should not have the right to live!

I began to read your response to this poor woman’s story and thought; “wow this woman might have a heart,” then I finished what you had to write.

You are a CRB!

To Karen:

I’m sorry about your situation. My advice is to mend the fence with your mom. Obviously, DSS sided with her and place your daughter where they thought she would be safe. Your mother may be difficult, I don’t know, but your daughter is a gift from God. Stay close to her, do whatever you need to do to be the best mother you can be. Swallow your pride and ask to live back at home with your mom and daughter. Be a good daughter. Go to night school and earn your degree. Stop doing negative or irresponsible things. I have a 21 year old daughter and I am the quasi father to many of her friends. It is not easy to have a child at 21, but you have one. Now is the time for you to act like an adult and do what needs to be done. If you have not finished High School, get you GED. My daughter sat for her GED when she was 16, graduated from college at 19 and now is in law school.

You can do the same thing. Buckle down, bite your tongue, make up with your mom and get into school. Set an example to your daughter to study hard and work hard. To be disciplined and determined to succeed. In a few years you can have a good paying job.

Many field pay very well. Nursing, Web Design, Civil Engineers, etc… Start school and explore. You will find what it is you were meant to do.

I wish you, your daughter and your mother all the best. Believe and always have hope!

kaj
Member

Joe….I don’t think you are legit. You claim to pay 20 times more than $25k in taxes. 25kx20=500k….LOL. If you pay $500k in taxes that means your income level is probably somewhere in the top 5% at least. WTF are you doing on a message board defending poor people? With that kind of dough, you could be out there making a REAL difference. I think you’re full of it.

Next, you are *defending* paying your taxes that go to help those less fortunate so they can have the same services you do.You basically say you are glad to help.

Yet you chastise fedup because he pays less taxes than you, yet still gets the same services you do. I would think you would be happy that fedup is using LESS of the taxes you claim to pay.

Last, you are trying to play the game “I pay more taxes than you, so your opinion doesn’t count”. This implies that the less taxes someone pays, the less they matter to you. This is a direct contradiction to your posts defending how badly poor people need our help. If anything, people who pay no taxes should have no say in anything, going by some of your posts.

Your posts are not consistent. I think you are just a career government libtard mooch, trying to justify stealing from your hard-working neighbors.

karen
Guest

I AM A SINGLE 21 YR OLD MOM I RECENTLY LOST MY DAUGHTER DSS TOOK HER AWAY MY MOM HAS HER THANK GOD BUT RIGHT NOW MY MOM AND I ARE NOT TALKING SO SHE KICKED ME OUT HER HOUSE I AM HOMELESS AT THE MOMENT I AM STAYING HERE AND THERE BUT I NEED HELP I DONT KNOW WHAT TO DO

Aubs
Guest

Ive heard that there are some good folks at churches that can offer food and shelter.

fedup
Guest

So, because we don’t have a plan, we should just bend over and take it? That is not a plan, that’s failure, and precisely why the government is successful. Sitting put, letting these types of programs gain momentum is like the frog that is being cooked. Slowly the water gets hotter, and by the time he notices, it’s boiling, and he’s too weak to react. The water is simmering, and shutting up, sitting on the sidelines will only accelerate the process. I’m sorry you don’t see this.

California residents are now officially receiving IOU’s instead of their state tax refunds. The IOU says the state will pay them when they have the money. Try spending an IOU at the store for food. California is the canary in the coal mine. How reluctant do you think Californians are to pay their state tax bills this year, knowing that they’ll likely not see any of it back?

This is about to happen on a Federal level. And when it does, many will begin questioning why they’re paying into a system that is broken.

My suggestion; organize a mass protest by withholding tax payments to the federal government. Get just 10-15% of working Americans to claim 99 dependents on their W2’s – effectively stopping payroll deductions – and then on 4/15 submit the following with your 1040:

“Dear Uncle Sam,
Due to the ever increasing recklessness of the stewardship of my money, I hereby notify you that I no longer wish to participate in this process. Once you bring spending under control and have a balanced budget, I will consider contributing once again.”

Granted, if you’re the only one to send this in, you’ll have problems. But if 5 million people do this, it will accomplish the following:

1) It will get Congress’ attention
2) It will overwhelm the IRS’ ability to enforce the evasion
3) It will bring the Federal government to its knees by denying it unlimited access to the fruits of our labor

The only problem with this logic is that, at the rate we’re going, the Federal Reserve will simply print the missing money.

Joe
Guest

You must be a lunatic to try to lead a tax revolt! Try it; spend 20 years in jail for tax evasions! Do the poorest of the poor getting cell phones for free bother you that much that you would evade taxes?

kaj
Member

Joe……that is *exactly* what the mooches and their buddies in government are counting on: going to jail isn’t worth it.

The Mafia hopes that you would rather give them money, rather than having your legs broken.

It is extortion in either case.

shutupalready
Guest

First, fedup you should be commenting and making your thoughts useful, and they are not here. Second, I never said I was for getting taxed and the government spending how they want, but like you said what are you going to do. Third, crying by commenting on this page will not help. That’s my problem, you and the other CRY BABIES, crying about it. So do something. Oh, that’s right you can’t do anything. But watch the government spend our hard earned money on the needy. Now figure out a fix for it, and I will proudly stand with you. But until then just SHUTUPALREADY.

Aubs
Guest

Good point…I wonder where folks can discuss such ideas, organize and plan an action?…message boards are a good place to start….even if P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act abusing pricks may be sniffing.

fedup
Guest

George, I agree 100%… BUT, what can we do? Revolt? How? What’s the next step? We are moving in the wrong direction by having the government grow a seemingly endless supply of new tits for people like SUA and his family to suck on. Tea parties, where we hold signs and shout at buildings obviously don’t work. So what does WAKE UP mean? I’m ready for the front line if only there was one.

George
Guest

Ok all you tax paying sheeple, get back to work and pay for my cell phone, damn it!

No one should be paying one penny of their working income for taxes. The founding fathers said that the one thing that the government should never do is “tax the income of the working people”! Funny, that only happened after the Federal Reserve Act in 1913, when was the income tax law changed to allow the government to tax the income of the people, oh yeah 1913! A coincidence or what?

Wake up sheeple, you’ve been scammed for almost 100 years.

Give me my phone!

UhHuh
Guest

…About the same time we were watching Europe and preparing to enter WWI, thus needing revenue in reserve.

The FRA was partially in reaction to the Titanic disaster where the script recovered came from several dozen different “local” banks with different backings. With a Rockefeller and other big shakers dying in the sinking, there was a lot of confusion about what money lost belonged to whom and what really was lost in terms of real value. The move was to standardize the money and the backing thereof.

shutupalready
Guest

No you can’t argue because you have no point. Your assessment of me can’t include anything about me, because you don’t know me. But know this about me, I work everyday and pay taxes without being you. A BIG ASS CRY BABY!!! So when you pass someone on a cell phone on the street just think, you might have paid for it and the minutes every month. HA HA HA!! And ain’t a damn thing you can do about it. Nice talking to you, and have a great life.

fedup
Guest

SUA, “…cause YOU’RE (not your) just that.” I would argue your points, but every time you post, you make my point for me. Do me a favor… write this “Because it has electrolytes!”… that would complete my assessment of you.

shutupalready
Guest

No fedup or should I say the cancer of our country, cause your just that. I’m pretty sure that your taxes weren’t raised because they decide to give the needy a cell phone. If the government stealing from you then just don’t pay taxes. Hey I got one better, don’t even work. Then we’ll see who will be in the needy line.

fedup
Guest

BTW, if you don’t have a problem helping the needy, then by all means, do so with YOUR money and your WILL. But don’t FORCEFULLY take it from those that have not agreed to do it. That’s called stealing. But I guess as long as someone poor benefits, stealing is ok in your eyes. You are the cancer than has infected the country.

kaj
Guest

Yes again fedup. Lots of hypocrisy here. It is illegal for any one of these people to mug someone directly to get money for a cellphone. Yet, they approve of the government doing it on their behalf.

If anyone disagrees, stop paying taxes and see what happens. They will come to take your stuff if you don’t. If you put up a fight, they will throw you in jail or shoot you, depending on how much of a fight you give them.

fedup
Guest

Will the next sheep please step up to the guillotine? SHutupalready, I believe you’re next.

Joe
Guest

Would you please step up?

shutupalready
Guest

Why are taxpayers (including myself because i also work and pay taxes) always crying when the government does something for needy families. Like it might have hurt you a whole lot. And if thats the case you should be dead by now. I know damn well all of us that work have been paying taxes since we started working, and will be paying them until we die. It’s a part of life. Deal with it, I do without crying about the sh*t. SO JUST GET THE F*** OVER IT ALREADY, YOU BIG CRY BABIES!!!!

Aubs
Guest

omg….did you take math? Your taxes – any handouts = your contribution.
If your contribution is negative, then you’re not a taxpayer, if they are lower then your taxes are subsidized. Cell phones are luxury items. I don’t observe ne1 here complaining about paying taxes….just on the amount and the improper and abusive use of the funds…is this the section of the coment when I cuss and call names?

Joe
Guest

Giving away cell phone will neither increase your tax bill nor will it decrease your tax bill. I agree with both the about posts. Shut the F up and if you do not pay 33% of your earnings to the government YOU ARE BEING SUBSIDIZED!

So ANYONE NOT PAYING 33% Federal Tax is receiving more than what they paid for. Now whether you like how you money is spent is another story. If you are unhappy, write your congressman and senators.

Social Entitlements are a drop in the bucket. They are meanless in percentage of governmental spending.

STOP THE WARS. Each bomb, missle, etc… costs millions of dollars! Learn some ecomonics, especially Fedup!

Administrator
Guest

I think it’s time to expose something that might be obvious to others who have been following this thread. If you notice, there are an unusually high number of comments on this Safelink Wireless free phone article, way out of proportion to the average number of comments on other articles here. And this is not even that interesting of an article, compared to others. So what’s going on?

We believe that the majority of comments that are defending the program are contrived. There is no way that this many people who are so poor that they need a free cell phone, also just happen to have internet access available to them, and just happen to run into this article and just happen to write a polite comment, most of which are of a length that is longer than an average comment. It’s just not natural.

Who would write these emails? We’ll leave readers to guess at that. But, we’re telling you, they are not all real.

But please, keep them coming. We enjoy reading them.

UhHuh
Guest

You are obviously oblivious to the concept of free computer access at just about any public library in this country. Likewise, all the shelters and job centers that provide Internet connections…

sybilll
Guest

Funny, but, libraries aren’t open on Sundays, or late at night. Take a look at date and time of some comments. Your argument holds no water.
Other thing that is funny, is no one has mentioned that text messaging is included now, too. Why? Text messaging? Are you kidding me? I have to budget my money, and can’t justify $12 per month for text messaging, why should gov’t assisted persons get it? Jeebus, we are toast.

fedup
Guest

Merle, I commend your willingness to go back to schools as a mother of 3. But, just from someone on the outside looking in… it’s easier to go to school first, and THEN have kids. If you choose to do it in reverse (of if life dealt you that hand), then why should we the taxpayer have to pay for that decision? is THAT fair?

Joe
Guest

This reality you old maid! Now I got you figured out you childless fat pig! Men don’t want you, not cause you’re fat, because you’re an asshole. You also are not financially successful, by your own admission, you only pay $25K per year in taxes, which at this point I don’t believe you even pay that much.

You a devoid of a soul. A souless old wench!

fedup
Guest

Why is everyone so sure I’m a woman?

UhHuh
Guest

Shut up, already.

Women have been taught for as long as societies have existed that they were to get married and have kids above all else. Women are still taught by their religions that they must do so now because of that “be fruitful and multiply” line from Genesis. So they dutifully get married to their high school sweetheart only to have him leave the family for whatever dumbass excuse. That leaves the woman with no skills and children to take care of. I would rather pay a little more in taxes for that woman to get the skills she needs to work than bitch because she isn’t working (and can’t get a job because she has no skills or higher education). And, yes–if it were a father with no skills left to tend the kids, I would say the same thing. However, it is easier for a man to get by on his own than for a woman.

Joe
Guest

RIGHT ON!

fedup
Guest

Maybe if you can’t afford kids, YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE ANY!? Hard logic, and tough to argue against. But wait, everyone has the right to have children – even if they don’t have the means to provide for them. After all, all those nasty, mean, rich people who make more than $100k will be forced to pay for them.

kaj
Guest

I agree with Fedup. All the whiners wanting freebies because they have children need to be reminded that having children IS A CHOICE. If you can’t feed ’em, don’t breed ’em! I am sick of being taxed to subsidize other people’s irresponsibility.

UhHuh
Guest

People have children at times when they CAN afford them–like when the parents have jobs and insurance.

In real life, people are losing those jobs or the husband leaves his wife and kids for a younger model, taking the insurance and income with him (women still make less money than men in the workplace). The assumption that all single female parents started out that way is such a BS way to look at things. Unfortunately, as long as men think they can walk away from their responsibilities and dodge the child support for years, there are going to be women who need assistance. In this economy, employers find a way to not hire women with kids because they are afraid the women will not be as reliable.

Welcome to the real world.

kaj
Guest

>In real life, people are losing those jobs or
>the husband leaves his wife and kids for a
>younger model, taking the insurance and income with him

Sure it happens, & other bad things like death or disability of a wage earner. People who have kids know this too — but they proceed to take the risk anyway, don’t they?

Or are they excused from being in “the real world”?

merle
Guest

this program is not just for people on welfare. It is for people who are disabled and childcare assistance. Did you ever think in your narrow mind about the children who are with the adults who do not have cell phones what if there is an emergency? But you probably don’t care because they are not making 100,000.00 a year.

Joe
Guest

Merle:

Fedup is a old baron woman. She hates kids and she hates women that have had the blessing of having children. Whether or not our government supports entitlements; it WILL NOT affect anyone’s federal taxes.

Fedup actually believes that the federal government would lower their total tax base. Taxes may be shifted, but never lowered. I’m happy to pay my taxes. I think entitlements should go up in order to allow young people with children to be able to afford day care and college.

It is better for society to pay 5 years of expense and have a career tax payer on the books than to hold down the poor forever.

Fedup is not educated or intelligent. She is the kind of person that does not understand Social Economics. I would much rather pay for you to become financially independent, than to see you on welfare for the rest of your life.

Fedup cannot see the big picture. She is not a long term strategist. She only cares about herself; no I mean, she only cares about her money!

fedup
Guest

Aubs, you’re eloquence is refreshing. I love the hyena analogy.

You are also spot on about Democracy vs. Rebulic. Majority rules = democracy. Law rules = republic.

Aubs
Guest

Doesn’t this thread pretty much sum up the US situation as a whole right now? Any one else see this? It seems like half the people on this thread love this and all other wealth distribution programs because they are on the receiving end…the other half is pissed because they are on the “taken from” end…this animosity is government induced because they are supposed to treat us all equal..that certainly means financially as well…..even a blind man can see this.

Problem is, when you take money from some that worked for it, and give that money to others who did not work for it…it is, in fact, SLAVERY. This will be magnified when the group that is receiving grows larger than the group that is being robbed….when the robbed group finally loses all the principals and responsibility and work ethic and pride that has been taught to them…they’ll simply cave in because they’ll realize they’ve been chumped out. Who will we take from then?? It’s law of the jungle. When a cheetah works very hard and kills a gazelle and goes to eat it……then 10 hyenas come around and take over the kill because there are more of them…that is DEMOCRACY…..good thing we are a Constitutional Republic that says the cheetah keeps what it worked for and fends off the hyenas for us right???? Wrong, the government are hyenas too.

fedup
Guest

Wow. My fellow taxpayers – how’s that for a nice thank you? You, my friend, are the reason why we’re so pissed off at this program. It rewards mindless unproductive, rude, and inconsiderate degenerates like you. I hope you enjoy your free phone.

To everyone else who takes issue with this free handout – I encourage you to watch Idiocracy and tell me if life isn’t imitating art.

Joe
Guest

You must be a bitter! Your life didn’t turn out the way you expected!

THE-REGULATOR
Guest

THE SAFELINK WIRELESS PHONE WAS AVAILABLE WAY BEFORE OBAMA CAME TO OFFICE. U PEOPLE ARE BLAMING HIM AS IF ITS HIS FAULT. HALF OF UR FAMILY MEMBERS USE THIS FREE PHONE SO JUST SHUT THE F*** UP.KTHANKS.

fedup
Guest

Who TF cares who started it? I don’t disagree about the VA bennies. Aside from the chaps who were FORCED to serve via the draft, the rest willingly signed up. Call me unpatriotic if you must, but if you choose to enter the military, you do so knowing the risks. Same as a cop. If you don’t like the risks, let someone else do it for you (there are always plenty).

So many join the military because of the bennies. Early retirement, school money, on-base living, stipends, etc. And, most (the smart ones, at least) hope to never see any combat. Why should my taxes pay for perks that the rest of us don’t get?

Look, the ship is taking on water a little faster every day. Our fate is no longer if, but when we collapse under our debt. Any efforts to blame one group over another is akin to rearranging the chairs on the deck. We are all F’ed. And it is PRECISELY because of programs like this – everyone tries to suck on the tit of government – that we’re doomed.

Joe
Guest

You know I tried to respond to your posting, but you are so sick it is unbelievable! A soldier, whether drafted or volunteer is protecting our country based on what the President, Congress and Senate declare necessary. If they are disabled, they are promised disability and medical treatment.

I am against war and I am against killing, but I also am a man of honor and a patriot! We need to take care of our soldiers, we need to take care of our children and we need to elderly.

Americans need to care about Americans. If you are so unhappy with the way WE do things, try to find a better Country than America! Try to find a Country that you can pay less tax and have more benefits!

It is unbelievable how introverted you are. You only care about yourself and yet you do not even pay THE MAXIMUM FEDERAL TAX (33%).

Boston20
Guest

This program started during Bush. There are a lot of sick and ederly who don’t have phones. They are not the ones “Breeding like Rabbits”. They didn’t ask for either. Give them their phones. Let’s cut Veterans Benefits. No other country in the world pays their veterans what we do. In most countries everyone must serve 2 years and they don’t bitch and the ant benefits. US vets are the biggest whinners, is give me I’m a vet. I served 4 years, because of my love in this country. For all you sad unhappy people, yes I born here as were my Great Great Grand Parents. You serve for the love of your country not the money.

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