What is the Flores Settlement?

For several weeks the Trump Administration has falsely blamed ‘the law’ for its immoral decision to separate families at the southern border. Some administration officials have also pointed to the 1997 Supreme Court case of Flores v. Reno (also known as the ‘Flores settlement’) as a reason why family separation occurred.

Once again this is completely false. The Flores settlement does not require family separation. This fact should be obvious enough since Trump-style family separation did not occur for the 20 years after Flores. Still, Flores is an important legal precedent. Indeed, the Trump Administration’s recent executive order, which is still extremely unclear its effects, faces legal challenges under Flores. Here, our deportation lawyer provides a brief overview of Flores.

Flores Addressed the Mistreatment of Unaccompanied Minors in the 1980s

Unfortunately, the recent policy by the Trump Administration is far from the first time that the American government has mistreated immigrants. While the Trump Administration has taken especially extreme action, there have been many previous issues.  

The Flores Settlement came out of a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) after U.S. immigration authorities detained 15-year-old girl from El Salvador in the 1980s. In a consent decree agreed to by the Clinton Administration in 1997, the U.S. government agreed to set standards for how unaccompanied minors would be treated in immigration custody.  

Flores Limits Detention of Minors at 20 Days

As time passed, the Flores Settlement was extended to all minors and more specific legal standards were set up by American courts. Notably, under U.S. law, federal immigration officers cannot detain a minor for more than 20 days. This raises an important question: what happens when a family, exercises their rights under U.S. law and makes a claim for asylum? After 20 days, any children must be released. Undoubtedly, their parents should be released as well while their claim is adjudicated Otherwise, family separation will occur.

Why the Trump Administration Executive Order May Be a Problem

The Trump Administration is claiming that the recent executive order will end family separation going forward. This is far from clear. After 20 days of detention, minors must be released from custody. If their parents are not released as well, then the family will be separated. However, the Trump Administration has not promised to release all families. The family separation problem has not be solved.

In recent days, United States Department of Justice has filed a request to modify the terms of the Flores Settlement. If successful, this could pave the way for the long-term detention of young children. A far more humane, much easier solution would be to end the detention of families.

It is imperative that the public continues to apply maximum political pressure to the Trump Administration. Family separation is not solved. A nationwide protest against the family separation will take place on June 30th, 2018. Everyone is strongly encouraged to attend.

Get Help From an Immigration Lawyer Today

At the Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, we are compassionate and aggressive advocates for immigrants. If you or a family member is facing deportation in Southern California, please do not hesitate to call our Los Angeles office for immediate legal guidance. All immigration consultations are fully confidential.