Publication Date


Document Type



Recent media coverage has reported numerous stories of young children being held in unsafe and inhumane conditions within ICE detention border facilities under former Presidents Obama and Trump. This paper assesses the ICE detention centers compliance with the 1997 Flores Agreement. Flores was an agreement from the United States government to enforce certain practices to protect minors in detention facilities. Furthermore, this paper explores whether the conditions within the detention centers worsened from the Obama administration to the Trump administration in order to determine what policies had the most negative effects on migrant children and their experiences in those centers. President Obama heavily enforced policies of family detention, which meant that migrant families were detained together, while President Trump had a strict “zero tolerance” policy of any type of illegal immigration, which in turn lead to the practice of families being separated. This paper uses a variety of news articles to chronologically assess policy transitions and administrative responses. Additionally, it examines several court documents, interviews with migrant children, and two ICE Detention Standards manuals to determine the facts associated with juvenile treatment. Based upon these sources, this paper argues that while ICE detention centers were in violation of the 1997 Flores Agreement throughout both the Obama and Trump administrations, these transgressions greatly increased during the latter. This argument has significant value because unlike his predecessors, the new Biden administration should be held accountable if the Flores Agreement is not followed or if they fail to reform ICE detention center procedures and policies for migrant children.



Download Full Text (581 KB)

Conditions of Children Held in ICE Detention Centers During the Obama and Trump Administrations