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Does MACUSA have something like the Trace, for underage wizards? If they do, why didn't they find Credence earlier?

The fact that they were unaware of him implies they did not have an equivalent to the Trace. Considering how concerned they were with discovery by the No-Majs, why didn't they have similar magic in place?

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3 Answers 3

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This appears to have been a plot point dealt with in the original script, but dropped from the final film.

The Lego video game adaptation was recorded with an earlier copy of the script and has the following sequence, implying that the Credence had somehow slipped through the cracks in MACUSA's records.

Newt Scamander: Look at the marks! That was an Obscurus.
Seraphina Picquery: You go too far Mr Scamander! There is no Obscurial in America! We register every birth, every wand... Graves, destroy that case.
LEGO Dimensions - Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - All Cutscenes & Ending! (Full Movie)

This will likely be dealt upon more in future movies.

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    Ah, now that makes sense. If all wizards are part of a small, insular community, it's plausible to register each birth
    – Valorum
    Commented Sep 11, 2017 at 23:34
  • Wow what a great find!
    – TheAsh
    Commented Sep 11, 2017 at 23:36
  • They register every birth to a wizarding family, but does that also happen for Muggle-borns?
    – JAB
    Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 20:16
  • @JAB - Credence isn't Muggle-born ("Your mother was a wicked, unnatural woman!")
    – ibid
    Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 20:21
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    @ibid We know that, but MACUSA would have no knowledge. Of course, given that that isn't mentioned, I suppose it's reasonable to assume that they do detect Muggle-born/etc. children with magical talent as soon as possible and Credence slipped through the cracks because he suppressed even subconscious magic (like Harry's overnight hair growth/etc.)
    – JAB
    Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 20:25
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It’d be redundant - they didn’t allow wands outside of Ilvermorny.

In Britain, the Trace isn’t the way that either the Ministry or Hogwarts finds out when a wizard child is born. Hogwarts has the Quill of Acceptance and the Book of Admittance for that, and wizards do seem to be registered with the Ministry. The Trace was to make sure young British wizards who’d already turned eleven and started learning how to use magic but weren’t yet seventeen don’t use magic outside of school. Underage wizards in Britain are allowed to keep their wand when they’re not at school, they’re just not supposed to use it (though they sometimes do anyway).

“… and the Ministry can punish you if you do magic outside school, you get letters.’

‘But I have done magic outside school!’

‘We’re all right. We haven’t got wands yet. They let you off when you’re a kid and you can’t help it. But once you’re eleven,’ he nodded importantly, ‘and they start training you, then you’ve got to go careful.”
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 33 (The Prince’s Tale)

However, in America, young wizards are first chosen by their wands while at Ilvermorny, and aren’t allowed to take their wands out of Ilvermorny until they turn seventeen. During the time of their lives that would be covered by the Trace, they’d have no wand to possibly do any magic with.

Once students have been allocated a house they are led into a large hall where they select (or are selected by) a wand. Until the 1965 repeal of Rappaport’s Law, which enforced very strict conformity with the Statute of Secrecy, no child was allowed a wand until they arrived at Ilvermorny. Moreover, wands had to be left at Ilvermorny during vacations and only upon attaining seventeen years of age was the witch or wizard legally allowed to carry a wand outside school.
- Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (Pottermore)

Therefore, the only type of magic they’ll be able to possibly do outside of Ilvermorny is wandless magic, which is much more difficult. Since the Trace is only for wizards eleven to seventeen, it would have effectively no purpose. We have no information on how MACUSA finds out when a wizard child is born, but using the Trace wouldn’t help them with that - that’s not what it does.

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Perhaps MACUSA doesn't have a trace because of their version of Constitutional rights.

We see that MACUSA's government is based on the American style of government, with a congress, a president and so forth.

Therefore it's quite reasonable to speculate that they have some form of constitution as well, probably based on the American constitution. Considering a trace is basically wiretapping without a warrant, it stands to reason that any form of a trace would be forbidden under MACUSA's constitution as well.

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    Given that they practice capital punishment without trial and are ignoring the constitution regarding prohibition, they don't seem especially keen on following the Muggle constitutional settlement
    – Valorum
    Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 11:08
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    @Valorum Similar to our government. But that doesn't mean that on paper they don't have official rights.
    – TheAsh
    Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 11:36
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    FYI: Fantastic Beasts is set in 1926; [Olmstead v. United States](en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olmstead_v._United States) was decided in 1928, and ruled that wiretapping was not a violation of the Fourth Amendment. This was overturned in 1967, Katz v. United States. Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 19:54

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