Date of Award

January 2020

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Administration (MPA)



First Advisor

Kerem Ozan Kalkan

Department Affiliation


Second Advisor

LeAnn Beaty

Department Affiliation


Third Advisor

Mikhail Ivonchyk

Department Affiliation



In early 2017, two asylum officers went to reporters at Reuters to warn the public of a new immigration policy. This policy would see thousands of children separated from their parents; a humanitarian crisis engineered purposefully by the administration would be underway for the next years. Along the way, dissenters would try to stop the administration’s policy. In her seminal work The Ethics of Dissent: Managing Guerilla Government, O’Leary (2019) describes these types of events as guerilla government. Guerilla government occurs when public servants work against the desires of their superiors either out in the open or covertly. This is done for various reasons; one of which is to hold the government accountable for perceived ethical wrongdoing. O’Leary’s (2019) work tries to explain the concepts of guerilla government through case studies. Therefore, this method will be used to explain the role of guerilla government in ending government wrongdoing. This qualitative case study will examine what role government dissenters of the Trump’s administration family separation border policy had in ending that policy. It will also examine the limitations those government dissenters had and how there are still challenges to the separation of children at the border.