Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Politics and International Relations

Reader 1

Dilara Uskup

Reader 2

David Menifee-Libey

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2018 Evelyn Larsen


This paper analyzes how the Trump Administration’s zero-tolerance policy compares with the history of detention and immigration policy within the United States. President Trump believes there is a “border crisis,” wants to deter immigrants from coming to the U.S. and will “do whatever it takes to ensure border security” (Warner, 2018). A 7-year-old girl died in Customs and Border Patrol’s custody on December 7th, 2018. She suffered from dehydration and starvation (Valencia& Boyette 2018). This horrific event, and many other stories prompted me to do this research. In this thesis, I use qualitative and comparative methods of analysis by looking at the rate of immigration along the U.S. southern border under the Obama Administration and the Trump Administration. I unpack why detention is higher today than it was under Obama’s administration without a substantial spike in migration. I discuss how the human rights of these asylum seekers are being violated, in particular society’s most vulnerable social group: children. My thesis asks the question, how has the zero-tolerance policy of the Trump Administration resulted in human rights abuses? Using Foucault’s philosophy of prisons and punishment, this paper argues that the change in border policies since the Trump Administration’s zero-tolerance policy have led to clear human rights abuses, such as child separation, for the purpose of deterring other immigrants from coming to the United States.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.