This final rule amends regulations relating to the apprehension, processing, care, custody, and release of alien juveniles. The rule replaces regulations that were promulgated in 1988 in response to a lawsuit filed in 1985 against the Attorney General and the Department of Justice's legacy U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), in Flores v. Meese. In January 1997, the parties reached a comprehensive settlement agreement, referred to as the Flores Settlement Agreement (FSA). The FSA, as modified in 2001, provides that it will terminate forty-five days after publication of final regulations implementing the agreement. Since 1997, intervening legislation, including the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (HSA) and the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA), have significantly altered the governing legal authorities relating to the detention, custody, processing, and release of alien juveniles. This final rule adopts regulations that implement the relevant and substantive terms of the FSA, consistent with the HSA and the TVPRA, with some modifications discussed further below to reflect intervening statutory and operational changes while still providing similar substantive protections and standards. The final rule satisfies the basic purpose of the FSA in ensuring that all alien juveniles in the government's custody pursuant to its authorities under the immigration laws are treated with dignity, respect, and special concern for their particular vulnerability as minors, while doing so in a manner that is workable in light of subsequent statutory, factual, and operational changes and builds on the government's extensive experience working under the FSA. Most prominently, in response to great difficulty working under the state-licensing requirement for family residential centers, the final rule creates an alternative to the existing licensed program requirement for ICE family residential centers, so that ICE may use appropriate facilities to detain family units together during their immigration proceedings, consistent with applicable law.
Effective October 22, 2019.