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Administration loses nearly 1,500 migrant kids
02:01 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

It only took 31 days.

When people look back at the US immigration debate, they might point to May 2018 as a turning point – a month when policies became reality, when words once whispered in private became words shouted in public, when life for immigrant families crossing the border became visibly worse.

There were major events that made national news. And smaller rumblings that could pave the way for seismic shifts.

A caravan crossing the US-Mexico border sparked a push to overhaul asylum policies and stop future groups from getting in.

The President of the United States called immigrant gang members “animals.”

A lawyer vowed to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement after hearing people speak Spanish at a restaurant. And a Border Patrol agent questioned a US citizen after she spoke Spanish in a store.

Authorities separated immigrant children from their parents as part of a new “zero tolerance” plan to prosecute everyone caught illegally crossing the border.

Here’s a look at these and other immigration developments that played out in the past month – and where things could go from here:

The caravan crossed the border. Future migrants could face more obstacles.

It took weeks for a caravan of migrants from Central America to make it to the US-Mexico border. And days for them to cross and officially ask for asylum.

Meanwhile, north of the border, the administration swiftly used the caravan to make a fresh push to overhaul immigration laws, decrying what it called “loopholes” that it said allow people to flood the system with frivolous claims.

Advocates counter that international law guarantees the rights of people fleeing persecution to seek asylum, and there’s nothing frivolous about it.

Gabriela Hernandez and her children Jhonnathan and Omar, Central American migrants traveling in the "Migrant Via Crucis" caravan stand for a portrait outside near their tent at Juventud 2000 shelter   in Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico, on April 27, 2018.
This pregnant mom is the first migrant in line for asylum
03:36 - Source: CNN

What’s next:

Hundreds of people from the caravan are in the United States and making their asylum cases. But that can take months – or even years – so it will be a while before we learn how they fared.

In a recent congressional hearing, US Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Lee Francis Cissna said 205 of 216 caravan members screened so far had passed the “credible fear” threshold – the first step in proving an asylum case. But in the end, for most people in the caravan the odds of winning asylum are slim.

Activists in Mexico have warned that other migrants trying to make it to the United States will likely face more obstacles now, given the political attention the caravan drew.

Trump called MS-13 members animals. Then the administration doubled down.

At a White House event, President Trump responded to a California sheriff’s comments about criminal immigrants, and specifically MS-13, by saying: “We have people coming into this country, or trying to come in. … You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals.”

Like many things Trump says about illegal immigration, it played well with his base but sparked a wave of criticism from Democrats and immigrant rights groups.

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Trump: Breaking up families because of Dems
02:13 - Source: CNN

Some reports took the comments out of context. Some advocates warned it was a sign that Trump was dehumanizing all immigrants as his administration continued its crackdown.

The next day, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders came to her daily press briefing armed with examples of terrible acts committed by members of the notorious street gang. And the White House released a statement decrying the group, using the word “animal” 10 times.

Trump’s comments about MS-13 weren’t the only words on immigration from his administration that drew attention in May. His chief of staff also said undocumented immigrants are too uneducated and unskilled to fit into American society – an echo of the past for many immigration historians.

And his education secretary said she thought it was up to local schools and communities to decide whether to report kids and their families to ICE – prompting a backlash from civil rights groups.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly takes part in a meeting between US President Donald Trump and bipartisan members of Congress on school and community safety in the Cabinet Room of the White House on February 28, 2018 in Washington, DC.(MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Kelly: Undocumented immigrants lack skills to assimilate
02:23 - Source: CNN

What’s next:

MS-13 remains Public Enemy No. 1 for the Trump administration. The President and other officials routinely point to the group as they call for more border security and more deportations, warning that public safety is at risk.

Critics have said this overstates the gang’s significance and unfairly stigmatizes millions of undocumented immigrants who have nothing to do with MS-13 or other organized crime. MS-13’s roughly 10,000 members in the United States are a fraction of the estimated 1.4 million members of US gangs nationally, according to the FBI. There are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.

Lawmakers almost forced a DACA debate. There’s still a chance they could.

Moderate Republicans made a push to force a floor debate over the future of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama-era program that protects young undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. But a petition needs 218 signatures to circumvent House Republican leadership, and so far, it’s five short.

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Immigration showdown highlights GOP divisions
07:29 - Source: CNN

What’s next:

The debate over DACA is far from over, and there’s still a chance that lawmakers could succeed in reviving the issue and bringing other immigration measures up for debate. But with midterm elections looming, the question remains whether enough members of Congress are willing to navigate the political minefield of immigration reform.

Hearing Spanish fueled a lawyer’s racist tirade. And a Border Patrol agent’s immigration check.

A lawyer railed against employees and customers he heard speaking Spanish at a New York restaurant, and a video of the outburst went viral. “My guess is they’re not documented. So my next call is to ICE to have each one of them kicked out of my country,” attorney Aaron Schlossberg said.

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Man goes on racist rant at NYC eatery
01:13 - Source: CNN

Less than a week later, video emerged of a Border Patrol agent in Montana telling a woman he’d asked for her ID after hearing her and a friend “speaking Spanish in the store in a state where it’s predominately English-speaking.” Footage of that exchange, first reported by a local TV news station, drew national attention to the case.

What’s next:

Days after unleashing the racist tirade, the New York lawyer apologized and said in a written statement that he isn’t racist. US Customs and Border Protection said it was looking into what happened in the Montana case to make sure the agency’s policies were followed.

But beyond the viral videos and their aftermath, these cases raise bigger questions: Given that two-thirds of Americans live in areas where the Border Patrol has extended search authority, are we going to see an uptick in agents stopping people and questioning their immigration status? As our national immigration debate grows increasingly polarized, are tensions boiling over more in stores and restaurants, or is the prevalence of cellphone cameras making it easier to document long-simmering racism?

The US ended deportation protections for nearly 90,000 more people. Even though diplomats advised against it.

The Trump administration announced it was ending temporary protected status for about 86,000 Hondurans who have lived legally in the United States since the 1990s. They have 18 months to leave the country or face possible deportation.

On the heels of this announcement, a congressional investigation found that the administration’s decisions to end these protections for Hondurans and more than 300,000 other immigrants went against recommendations from career State Department employees.

TPS: What is Temporary Protected Status?
02:11 - Source: CNN

What’s next:

In addition to Honduras, the administration has already ended temporary protected status, or TPS, for people here from five other countries, including El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti, Nepal and Sudan. In July, officials are slated to decide whether to extend TPS for about 1,600 immigrants from Yemen and Somalia.

A Border Patrol agent shot and killed an undocumented immigrant. Then the official account of what happened changed.

Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez, a 20-year-old undocumented immigrant from Guatemala, was shot in the head by a Border Patrol agent in Texas. Initially, officials said the agent was trying to apprehend a group of undocumented immigrants and fired at least one round after coming under attack by people using blunt objects.

Days later, the agency changed its account of what occurred, removing mentions of blunt objects and saying instead that the group had “rushed” the officer after ignoring orders to get on the ground.

The scene after an undocumented immigrant was shot and killed by a CBP officer in Rio Bravo, Texas.
Undocumented immigrant shot, killed by officer
01:11 - Source: CNN

What’s next:

Speaking to reporters in Guatemala, Gomez’s family said they want answers – and justice.

“It’s not fair that they treat them like animals, just because they come from countries less developed,” Gomez’s aunt said.

The FBI and Texas Rangers are investigating the shooting. Officials have declined to comment further, citing the pending investigation.

Trump called immigration courts corrupt. Even though his administration has been trying to hire more immigration judges.

In an interview with Fox News, Trump suggested it was time to make sweeping changes to what he described as a “corrupt