In January, the debate over immigration reform focused on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, commonly referred to as DACA. President Trump announced plans to end the program in March and urged Congress to pass a permanent solution that also included funding for a new border wall. Federal lawmakers failed to meet that deadline, however, a federal injunction kept DACA alive by allowing current recipients to apply for renewals.
By spring, attention then shifted to immigration from Central America. Headlines about a migrant caravan traveling through Mexico led to concerned tweets from President Trump and preceded his decision in April to authorize governors in border states to deploy the National Guard. Guard troops supported agents with duties unrelated to law enforcement.
Beginning in May, ports of entry began seeing an influx of families and individuals seeking asylum. Some waited days to make a formal request with federal authorities. By June, much of the discussion around immigration concerned family separations — a consequence of the Trump administration's zero-tolerance policy. Pushback was swift and separations ceased that same month. A federal judge also ordered the government to reunite affected families.
As fall approached, Border Patrol agents began apprehending larger groups of asylum seekers in Arizona's western desert, while more families chose to wait at ports of entry to make requests. In late October, news of another approaching caravan from Central America led President Trump to deploy active-duty troops to the border, including more than 1,500 service members in Arizona. Their duties included installing razor wire along portions of the border wall in communities like Nogales in anticipation of the caravan's arrival.
Shortly after Thanksgiving, federal agents in California clashed with members of the caravan who attempted to rush the border in Tijuana. U.S. Customs and Border Protection responded by firing tear gas into the oncoming crowd and shutting down the San Ysidro Port of Entry. By December, lawmakers in Congress prepared to close out their session having not passed any comprehensive immigration reform legislation.