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Final Rule terminating Flores Agreement on detention of migrant children

  1. Original Date Announced

    August 23, 2019

    DHS rule terminates and replaces the Flores Settlement Agreement, which governed the apprehension, processing, care, custody, and release of noncitizen juveniles. The rule distinguishes between accompanied and unaccompanied migrant children and provides less protection for accompanied children, to whom the maximum time allowed in detention for children does not apply. This rule was signed by Acting DHS Secretary McAleenan and HHS Secretary Azar.

    [ID #431]

    Apprehension, Processing, Care, and Custody of Alien Minors and Unaccompanied Alien Children
  2. Effective Date

    October 22, 2019
  4. Biden Administration Action

    April 30, 2024

    2024.04.30_Unaccompanied Children Program Foundational Rule

    On April 30, 2024, Health and Human Service's (HHS) Administration for Children and Families (ACF) issued its final rule "Unaccompanied Children Program Foundational Rule," which codifies existing and new standards, requirements, and policies for the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s (ORR) Unaccompanied Children (UC) Program. The final rule implements and goes beyond protections included in the 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement by mandating standards for placement and release of unaccompanied children, emergency and influx operations, transportation, and monitoring requirements.

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Current Status

Not in effect

Most Recent Action

April 30, 2024 Action: None 2024.04.30_Unaccompanied Children Program Foundational Rule
April 30, 2024
Acted on by Biden Administration

Original Trump Policy Status

Trump Administration Action: Rule
Subject Matter: Detention Minors
Agencies Affected: ICE USCIS CBP ORR

Pre Trump-Era Policies

  • January 17, 1997

    The Flores settlement required that children be placed with a close relative or family friend “without unnecessary delay;” and that migrant children in custody must be held in the “least restrictive conditions” possible. The Ninth Circuit held this applied to both accompanied and unaccompanied children,

    Flores Settlement Agreement


  • Trump administration moves to terminate court agreement, hold migrant children and parents longer

    The Trump administration is moving to terminate a federal court settlement restricting how long U.S. officials can detain migrant children with their parents and replace it with a rule that could expand family detention and dramatically increase the time children spend in custody. The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services will issue a rule Friday to withdraw from the Flores Settlement Agreement, the federal consent decree that has set basic standards for the detention of migrant children and teenagers by the United States since 1997. The new rule will need the approval of a federal judge, who declined the government’s request last year to expand detentions. Homeland Security officials said the rule would eliminate a 20-day cap for detaining migrant children and create a new license regime that would make it easier for federal officials to expand family detention nationwide.

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  • 2021.12.11 CBS News: Biden administration discards Trump-era plan to end legal agreement protecting migrant children

    Reported: On December 11, 2021, CBS News reported that the Biden administration is "reversing course" on plans to implement the Trump-era rule identified in this entry, which would have terminated the Flores settlement: "[I]t is expected that the Biden administration will now work on its own rules to codify the Flores settlement, which was always intended to be replaced by regulations."

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