STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS AND THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: IMMIGRATION POLICIES, MIXED MESSAGING, AND INFORMATION FRATRICIDE
Graham, Jonathan M.
Mabry, Tristan J.
Peters, Lynda A.
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Under President Trump, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rolled out the controversial parent-child separation policy, also known as zero tolerance, and the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program in 2018–19. How DHS conducts strategic communications about such controversial policies is directly related to public and stakeholder perception of these policies. A newly developed stakeholder-centric measurement and evaluation model used to evaluate these two policy case studies demonstrates that Trump’s DHS used messaging which was, at times, inconsistent and even contradictory. While communications on MPP showed an evolution in DHS’s ability to successfully engage in strategic communications related to these enforcement efforts, the parent-child separation policy represents the prototypical example of information fratricide. The research methodology adopts an outsider viewpoint and employs a media content analysis of high-level public communications of DHS officials. Identification and future use of DHS’s top communications strengths, as displayed in these sample communications, can lead to more effective strategic communications and improved stakeholder engagement. The thesis concludes with generalized recommendations for future communications policy within DHS based on lessons learned from this thesis research.
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