National Center for Youth Law

Press Releases

Statement from the National Center for Youth Law on September 4 Ruling in Flores v. Barr

Today, Judge Dolly Gee granted a motion brought by the National Center for Youth Law and co-counsel. The Court held that the federal government cannot continue to place or hold immigrant children in unmonitored and unlicensed motels for weeks on end before expelling them from the United States, affirming they should not be “left in a legal no-man’s land, where no enforceable standards apply.” This decision is a huge win in the ongoing fight to protect vulnerable immigrant children.

In her order, Judge Gee unequivocally held that these children are protected by the Flores Settlement Agreement and stated “DHS cannot evade its obligations under the Flores Agreement by hiding behind a different statute while exercising unfettered discretion over the minors within its care.” 

Between April and July 2020, over 650 immigrant children from ages 0 – 17 years old were transferred from CBP to ICE custody, detained in motels, and then expelled from the United States under the Title 42 Order. Many of these children – including babies and toddlers – were held in motels for over a week.

Judge Gee’s ruling noted that the COVID-19 pandemic offered “no excuse for DHS to skirt the fundamental humanitarian protections that the Flores Agreement guarantees for minors in their custody, especially when there is no persuasive evidence that hoteling is safer than licensed facilities.”

The National Center for Youth Law applauds the court for seeing through the government’s shameful ruse and affirming that these children are protected by the Flores Settlement Agreement. 

We remain committed to ensuring the safety, health and wellbeing of children in Federal immigration custody and will continue to work against the relentless attempts by our government to violate these children’s rights.

Read today’s order and other background here.