Putting TRAC to Work
  News Organizations
The Hill
October 26, 2020

What's behind Trump's project to defund 'anarchist jurisdictions?'
By Austin Kocher

If he gets his way, Trump will turn his fictional world of “anarchist jurisdictions” into reality, harming many people in the process. And because these cities are home to Democratic majority voters, the “anarchist jurisdictions” label also feeds into Trump’s reelection campaign message of dividing the country geographically into red and blue states. This is not the first or only context in which this strategy has been used. For example, as researchers at Princeton University have shown, the expansion of U.S.-Mexico border policing in the past quarter-century has relied on a similar strategy of claiming the border is out of control, justifying increased budgets and a border wall, which then led to unprecedented migrant death and contributed to the rise of violence and disorder along the border. Most recently, this logic has been used to justify the action titled Migration Protection Protocols (MPP), which, according to data from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University has required nearly 70,000 asylum-seekers to stay in Mexico during their asylum hearings under risky conditions and without access to an attorney. As a result, many asylum-seekers have faced homelessness and violence while waiting in Mexico, and many have even abandoned their claims for asylum, choosing instead to take life-and-death chances back in their home country or try to enter the country unlawfully. These outcomes feed into the misperception that asylum-seekers don’t show up for their hearings, which then could be interpreted to justify MPP in the first place. As recently as the third and final presidential debate, Trump claimed that except for immigrants with “low IQ,” immigrants don’t show up for court. This claim contradicts a study from TRAC, which shows that out of 47,000 immigrant families seeking asylum, 85 percent show up for their first immigration court hearing. The number is even higher, 99.9 percent, for those who have an attorney. Regardless of the facts, Trump’s claim that immigrants don’t attend hearings — like the claim that some jurisdictions are out of control — feeds into an imaginary geography of widespread disorder that can be used to justify more illiberal and possibly illegal policies.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
Copyright 2020
TRAC TRAC at Work TRAC TRAC at Work News Organizations News Organizations