Former White House Chief Of Staff John Kelly Joins Board Of Company That Houses Separated Migrant Children

Former White House chief of staff John Kelly
Mark Wilson / Getty Images

Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly recently joined the board of directors for Caliburn International, a company which operates shelters for unaccompanied migrant children picked up at the border between Mexico and the United States, CBS News reports. Caliburn International is the parent company of Comprehensive Health Services, which operates a number of such shelters in the state of Texas.

Kelly, prior to joining the Trump administration as Secretary of Homeland Security in 2017, had previously served on the board of advisors for Caliburn’s parent company, DC Capital Partners. In July of 2017, Kelly switched roles to become chief of staff before departing the White House altogether in late 2018.

“With four decades of military and humanitarian leadership, in-depth understanding of international affairs and knowledge of current economic drivers around the world, General Kelly is a strong strategic addition to our team,” said Caliburn CEO James Van Dusen. “Our board remains acutely focused on advising on the safety and welfare of unaccompanied minors who have been entrusted to our care and custody by the Department of Health and Human Services to address a very urgent need in caring for and helping to find appropriate sponsors for these unaccompanied minors.”

During Kelly’s time at the White House, immigration enforcement ramped up considerably, including a sharp jump in the average amount of time unaccompanied migrant children would be held in custody.

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Comprehensive Health Services remains the only private company operating such shelters, and is currently one of the leading companies within their industry. With their facilities located on federal land next to an Air Reserve Base, one location, in Homestead, Texas, continues to be the only site in the nation that is exempted from routine inspections by state child welfare experts.

The so-called Flores Settlement is a federal court agreement in which unaccompanied migrant children are to be housed in what are described as “non-secure” facilities, meaning that the children can’t technically be prohibited from coming and going as they choose. While that may be the case within the confines of each facility, the locations are typically surrounded by tall fencing and monitored by private security contractors.

Ethics rules prohibit Kelly and other administration officials from working as lobbyists for five years after leaving a White House position, but there is no rule saying that Kelly cannot return to the company with which he was previously affiliated since he is not acting in a lobbying capacity. He may not, however, attempt to sway government policies in ways that could benefit the company.