Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly


In 2017, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that when the federal government detains an unaccompanied child, that child has the right to request legal review of his or her custody before an immigration judge. In Flores v. Sessions, the court reaffirmed the right, which had been present in the text of the laws governing the treatment of immigrant youth, but had been ignored by executive branch bodies. In its analysis, the court considered the relationship between a twenty-year-old settlement and two acts of Congress that govern the treatment of immigrant youth. The Flores decision affects the lives of an incredibly vulnerable population-children who travel to the United States alone, often to flee gang-related and domestic violence-over half of which qualify for protection deriving from international law. This Note analyzes the significance of the Flores v. Sessions decision and the population that it affects. Through the comparison of laws governing children's detention and the due process rights of adults challenging immigration custody decisions, this Note argues that the Flores decision represents a temporary victory for unaccompanied children, albeit one that calls for persistence on the part of advocates as the implementation of bond hearings moves forward.