Publication Date


Document Type



This paper contrasts the asylum policies in the Trump Administration to those of the Obama Administration. This research performs an intersectional analysis of rhetoric, political affiliation, direct and indirect policy initiatives, and enforcement across these administrations. This paper finds that although rhetoric can alter public opinion, it is often unrelated to the development of policy initiatives and enforcement. The same conclusion is drawn regarding the dissociation between political affiliation and detention practices. The human experience related to asylum is explored, specifically relating to policy implementation in both administrations, including family separation, the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), and the “Muslim Ban.” Migrants’ firsthand experiences, as presented in scholarly journals and periodicals, are collated to conclude that harsh detention practices that are often associated with the Trump Administration through public opinion and the media, were developed during the Obama Presidency and continually perpetuated in President Trump’s term. This paper also searches for parallels and variances between executive orders in both administrations, concluding that President Trump signed more extreme executive actions against the asylum system. To support this analysis, both Presidents’ White House press releases and social media posts are examined to conclude that the rhetoric and real policies do not consistently coincide. This research deciphers various scholarly journal articles, news sources, publications from nonprofit organizations, and think tanks from across the political spectrum. As the tides of political control have recently changed, it is vital for constituents to understand the real impacts that these most recent administrations had on the development and implementation of asylum policy in the United States. Via an intensive comparison of both administration’ asylum initiatives, this research will provide a retrospective view that can help the American populous make conclusions about the past and informed decisions about the future.



Download Full Text (1.5 MB)

Beyond The Rhetoric: Asylum In The Obama And Trump Administrations