By Akim Obinali
Introduction: Before delving into the US Family Separation Policy, it is of great important to know that public policies can be analyzed under the following instruments: policy; legal device; organisational structure; operational mechanism; and effects. Having known over a decade that the US have been in the crisis of border control as many immigrants continuously attempt to cross the US border illegally. As a result of this, several immigration laws have been enforced in the US to checkmate the crisis. This resulted in several public policies being implemented, while some of the policies had adverse effects while some are of positive effects. This brings us to the Family Separation Policy.
Policy: A policy is no doubt a course of action designed to promote, maintain or prevent some states of affairs. The history of the Family Separation policy can be traced during President Obama’s administration. According to a former Department of Homeland Security official report to the CNN, the idea of separating families came up after the 2014 child migrant surge crisis, where Jeh Johnson, the then Homeland Security Secretary asked for all available options to deal with illegal immigration at the border, however, the idea of the separation policy was never really carried out. During this period, hundreds of thousands of families from the US neighbouring states of Cuba, El Salvador, Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua fled to the US to seek refuge as a result of crisis such as gang related war, natural disasters, political crises, inter alia.
The US Family Separation Policy is therefore an immigration policy introduced by the President of the United States of America, Donald Trump in April 2018 which is used to prosecute as many border crossing offenses. The policy of Family Separation emerges as a control mechanism which is seen as a panacea to border crisis experienced in the US. It can also be simply explained as the executive order from the US President to separate the prosecution of immigrant children from their immigrant parents who are seeking asylum illegally.
The policy entails accelerating the process to ascertain eligibility to remain, promptly removing of those who are denied, and criminally prosecuting migrants for first time border offenses, which were previously treated as civil violations. In order to prosecute the immigrant families, their children are hence separated from the parents. This is done in such a way that the children of the immigrant parents are not charged with any crime, having known that these children did not just find themselves in the US border, therefore, they are not permitted to be jailed alongside their parents as enshrined in the US law.
Legal Device: The US executive arm of government plays significant roles to initiate executive orders so as to curtail an emerging crisis. It is therefore left for the world, publicists, lawmakers, etc to deliberate on such orders to determine its positives and negatives. In the case of Family Separation Policy, the decision was made by the US Executive.
Organizational Structure: This entails the institutional frameworks or organizations that are legally established to transmit the legal agreement, executive order and public policy into reality. The institutions involved employ different methodologies to translate the details of the policy into effect. In the case of the Separation Policy, the institutions involved are the US Department of Homeland Security and the Office of Refugee Resettlement.
Operational Mechanism: This involves the techniques or methodologies employed to implement and operationalized the policy of Family Separation. This is the actual point of implementation by the institutions involved. This can be seen where the Homeland Security arrest the immigrants and separate their children from them as well the Office of the Refugee Resettlement creating a homely environment for the children and car.
Akim Obinali is a Public Policy Analyst.