Legal Updates

Class Action Lawsuits

  • The Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law Foundation serves as class counsel for all apprehended unaccompanied minors in the US, pursuant to nationwide settlements reached in two major cases: Perez-Olano v. Johnson and Flores v. Reno. More information, resources, and copies of the settlements are available below.

Perez-Olano Settlement

  • Perez-Olano, et al. v. Holder, et al., (Case No. CV 05-3604, in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California)
      • Download the March 4, 2015 Settlement Agreement of the Motion to Enforce the Perez-Olano Settlement
      • Download the Perez-Olano Settlement (Perez-Olano, et al. v. Holder, et al., Case No. CV 05-3604 (C.D. Cal. 2010))

    After several months of negotiations, the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law (CHRCL) entered into an agreement with DHS bringing the agency into compliance with the Perez-Olano Settlement Agreement, allowing immigrant children found to be abused, abandoned or neglected by state courts to legalize their status and avoid deportation even if their state court orders expired when they turned 18 years of age. The Center agreed to withdraw its pending motion for class-wide enforcement of the Perez-Olano Settlement and DHS has agreed to comply with several key modified policies. 


    In this class-action, the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law (“Center”) challenged certain administrative policies and practices that blocked abused, abandoned, and neglected youth from receiving lawful immigration status as “special immigrant juveniles” (SIJs).  Pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(27)(J) youth whom a state juvenile court declares dependent on account of abuse, abandonment, or neglect may petition the U.S. Immigration & Citizenship Services (CIS)—a bureau of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)—to classify them as SIJs. If so classified, they are eligible to become lawful permanent residents (LPRs) of the United States. 8 U.S.C. § 1255. These provisions give effect to Congress’s determination that abused, abandoned or neglected youth who have no parents fit and available to care for them should be given a chance to live safe and productive lives in the United States.

Flores v. Meese

  • Flores v. Meese: The Flores nationwide class action settlement was negotiated by the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law in 1977. The settlement reached with the federal Government, among other things, vastly improved conditions of detention of immigrant minors, and requires the release of minors to a wide range of responsible adults, and in most circumstances requires that detained minors be released or placed in licensed group homes within 72 hours of arrest.  In late 2014, the Center along with co-counsel including Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe, La Raza Centro Legal, and the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, challenged the Obama Administration’s new policy of detaining minors apprehended with their mothers. We also challenge the conditions in Border Patrol stations where minors are generally held for a couple of days following arrest. The case is scheduled for a hearing in federal court in Los Angeles on March 27, 2015. We are seeking a federal court order requiring that the Government release minors who were apprehended with their mothers to other relatives, responsible adults, or to licensed group homes. Below are links to the latest legal filings:
    • Download our Memorandum in Support of Motion to Enforce the Flores Settlement of Class Action (Feb. 2, 2015)
    • Download the Government’s Motion to Modify the Settlement Agreement (Feb. 27, 2015)
    • Download the Government’s Response in Opposition to our Motion to Enforce the Flores Settlement (Feb. 27, 2015)
    • Download the Flores Settlement, Case # CV-85-4544 (C.D. Cal. 1997)


The Flores Settlement Agreement was the first document to establish guidelines for the treatment of children in the immigration detention system. The case originated with Jenny Lisette Flores, a 15-year-old child from El
Salvador who came to the United States in 1985. Jenny fled the
violence of El Salvador to be reunited with her aunt, who was living in
the United States; however, she never made it to her aunt’s home. The
former United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) – currently USCIS, apprehended and arrested Jenny at the border: She was handcuffed, strip searched, and placed in a juvenile detention center where she spent the next two months waiting for her deportation hearing.  The INS placed Jenny in a facility that did not provide educational, nor many recreational opportunities.  Furthermore, some of the minors in the facility had to share “bathrooms and sleeping quarters with unrelated adults of both sexes.”

Although Jenny had no criminal history, was not a flight risk, and was not a threat to anyone, the INS would not release Jenny to her aunt because the INS did not allow unaccompanied minors to be released to “third-party adults.”

The court certified the class, and the resulting litigation spanned more than nine years. The case eventually reached the United States Supreme Court. The Court found that the release procedures did not violate the minors’ substantive or procedural due process rights, and that the Attorney General was acting within his discretion. Additionally, the Court “described the arrangements as ‘legal custody’ and not ‘detention’ because the facilities in which immigrant minors [were] detained [were] ‘not correctional institutions, but facilities that meet state licensing requirements for the provision of shelter care, foster care, group care, and related services to dependent children.’” The Court remanded the case to the district court. The parties reached a settlement agreement before the district court could make a final determination on the case. The resulting FSA established a “nationwide policy for the detention, release, and treatment of minors in the custody of the INS.