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CA9 Upholds Flores

August 16, 2019 (1 min read)

Flores v. Barr

"In 1997, the United States entered into a settlement with a class of minors subject to detention by U.S. immigration authorities (“Plaintiffs”). The settlement agreement, incorporated into a consent decree, requires immigration agencies to hold such minors in their custody “in facilities that are safe and sanitary.” Flores Agreement (“the Agreement”) at ¶ 12A. The Agreement also requires the government to treat these “minors in its custody with dignity, respect, and special concern for their particular vulnerability as minors.” Id. at ¶ 11. This appeal began as a motion by the Plaintiffs to enforce the Agreement. The district court found that the government was violating the Agreement by detaining minors in unsanitary and unsafe conditions at Border Patrol stations. These findings were based on evidence that minors in U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody were held in conditions that deprived them of sleep and did not provide adequate access to food, clean water, and basic hygiene items. ... The parties agree that this court has jurisdiction over the appeal of this post-judgment order only if it modified the Agreement. The government argues that the district court’s order did modify the Agreement by requiring the government to provide specific hygiene items and adequate sleeping accommodations not explicitly listed in the text of the Agreement. We disagree. The district court’s order does not modify the Agreement. Instead, it interprets the Agreement’s requirement that minors be held in “safe and sanitary” conditions “consistent with the [government’s] concern for the particular vulnerability of minors.” See Agreement at ¶ 12A. The government also argues that the district court’s order modifies the Agreement in other respects, but those arguments likewise lack merit. As the district court’s order did not modify the Agreement we dismiss the appeal."