The Flores Agreement, also known as the “dhs Flores agreement,” was a settlement reached in the 1997 case of Flores v. Reno between the United States government and a group of immigrant children who were detained by Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) after crossing the border into the U.S. The agreement laid out specific guidelines for how the government should treat detained immigrant children.
Under the Flores Agreement, the government must release children from detention without unnecessary delay to a parent, legal guardian, or other suitable sponsor. If a sponsor is not immediately available, the government must place the child in the least restrictive setting appropriate for their age and any special needs they may have. The agreement also requires that children be provided with adequate food, water, sanitation, medical care, and educational services while detained.
The Flores Agreement has faced renewed scrutiny and controversy in recent years, as the Trump administration implemented a “zero tolerance” policy that led to the separation of thousands of immigrant families. In 2019, the administration announced plans to terminate the Flores Agreement, arguing that it was a “pull factor” encouraging more immigration and that its requirements were too restrictive and costly to implement.
Opponents of the termination argued that doing away with the Flores Agreement would remove critical protections for detained children and expose them to further harm and trauma. A federal judge in California ultimately blocked the attempt to end the agreement, ruling that the government could not override a court order without sufficient justification.
The Flores Agreement remains in effect today, shaping how the government must treat immigrant children in its custody. As debates continue over immigration policy and the treatment of migrants at the border, the Flores Agreement remains a significant part of the conversation. Its provisions and protections serve as a reminder of the importance of upholding the rights and dignity of all individuals, regardless of their immigration status.