Putting TRAC to Work
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The Washington Post
July 11, 2018

How big a risk is it to release migrant families from custody before evaluating asylum claims?
By Philip Bump

Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) compiles data based on individual immigration court cases. TRAC’s data shows a smaller number: 17 percent of those who posted bond and about 20 percent of all cases were completed in absentia — meaning that 83 percent and 80 percent of immigrants, respectively, appeared as ordered. That’s all cases, but TRAC notes two ways in which its methodology differs from the government’s in a footnote. First, the government doesn’t count all hearings in its calculations, excluding some based on the judge’s decision. Second, its data includes only the first hearing an immigrant is supposed to attend — so if another hearing is scheduled and the immigrant attends, the figure changes. One argument made to suggest that immigrants have a disincentive to appear for a hearing once released is the low rate at which asylum is granted. (Most of those entering the United States make an asylum claim on entry.) If you hope to stay in the United States and recognize that the likelihood you’ll receive asylum is low — meaning you’ll be slated for removal — why bother starting the asylum process? It’s true that most asylum seekers are rejected — particularly those lacking legal representation. TRAC’s data suggests that 62 percent of claims were rejected last year, including 90 percent of those who weren’t represented by an attorney.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
Copyright 2018
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