Kafka’s Bureaucracy: Immigration Administrative Burdens in the Trump Era
Moynihan, Donald P., Pamela Herd and Julie Gerinza. 2022. “Kafka’s Bureaucracy: Immigration Administrative Burdens in the Trump Era.” Perspectives on Public Management and Governance. 5(1): 22-35.
14 Pages Posted: 9 Jan 2023
Date Written: January 6, 2023
What does a government do when it decides to make a public service as burdensome as possible? We consider this question in the context of immigration policy during the Trump administration. The case demonstrates the deliberate and governmentwide use of administrative burdens to make legal processes of immigration confusing, demanding, and stressful. Many of these changes occurred via what we characterize as formal administrative directives, a level of policy implementation that falls between high-level formal executive legal powers, such as executive orders or rules, and street-level discretion, pointing to the importance of processes such as memos and training as an understudied space of using burdens to make policy. The case challenges the standard portrayal of the principal–agent dilemma, given that the political principals engaged in a disruption of public services akin to sabotage, while the bureaucratic agents remained largely quiescent. The outcome was a system of racialized burdens, where changes were targeted at racially marginalized immigrants. The case also highlights the use of fear as a particular type of psychological cost.
Keywords: administrative burden; Trump administration; immigration; Title 42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation