Summary of Flores v. Reno Agreement, PolitiFact Texas, June 2018

The September 1997 Flores v. Reno agreement focuses on setting out national policy for the detention, release and treatment of minors already in the custody of what was then the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

“The INS,” the agreement states, “shall place each detained minor in the least restrictive setting appropriate to the minor’s age and special needs” provided the minor is poised to make timely appearances before immigration authorities and her or his well being is protected. The agreement also says INS facilities will provide “contact with family members who were arrested with the minor” and segregate unaccompanied minors from unrelated adults.

Also, the agreement says, where the INS find the detention of a minor isn’t required to secure his or her timely appearance at a proceeding, it shall release the minor “without unnecessary delay.” Such a minor, the agreement says, should be released, in order of preference, to a parent; a legal guardian; an adult relative; or an adult individual or entity designated by the parent or legal guardian or parent. Subsequent choices, the agreement says, extend to licensed programs or, ultimately, another adult or entity seeking custody as an alternative to long-term custody and when “family reunification does not appear to be a reasonable possibility.”

The agreement includes instructions to INS “service officers” including: “Family reunification. Upon taking a minor into custody, the INS, or the licensed program in which the minor is placed, will promptly attempt to reunite the minor with his or her family to permit the release of the minor” in accord with the order-of-preference list. “Such efforts at family reunification,” the instructions say, “will continue so long as the minor is in INS or licensed program custody.”