The 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement (Flores) was the result of over a decade of litigation responding to the US government’s detention policy towards an influx of unaccompanied migrant children in the 1980s from Central America. At the time, children were being detained for long periods of time, including with unrelated adults, and in prison-like conditions. The agreement sets national standards regarding the detention, release, and treatment of all—both unaccompanied and accompanied— children in immigration detention and underscores the principle of family unity.
WRC has developed this backgrounder to clarify how Flores relates to the practice of family detention and family separation in US immigration history. Most importantly, Flores requires neither the separation nor the detention of families, especially when both practices have been found consistently to be harmful for children.
Updated July 2020.