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‘Sick, Dystopian Stuff’: Former Trump Adviser Kelly Joins Board of Company Running Immigrant Detention Centers

U.S. Southern Command, Commander Gen. John F. Kelly briefs the media on the current state of USSOUTHCOM affairs, March 20, 2013. (DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley/Released)
U.S. Southern Command, Commander Gen. John F. Kelly briefs the media on the current state of USSOUTHCOM affairs, March 20, 2013. (DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley/Released)

“This one’s particularly ugly.”

(By Julia Conley, Common Dreams) In what one critic deemed a “nauseating example of the revolving door” through which powerful political players often move in and out of the private sector, former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly joined the board of a company which owns some of the largest detention centers for unaccompanied children who cross the U.S.-Mexico border.

CBS News reported Friday that Kelly is now a member of the board of directors for Caliburn International, which runs one immigrant detention center in Florida and three in Texas.

Before joining the Trump administration, Kelly served on the board of advisers for an investment firm which now owns Caliburn. But critics said that in light of at least $222 million the company has received in government contracts to operate the detention centers between 2018 and 2019—as the number of children held in U.S. custody skyrocketed—Kelly’s current involvement with Caliburn represents a blatant conflict of interest.

“The fact is that when he was in the White House, the government took action that swelled the population of people that were in these facilities, and that benefited his former employer,” Delaney Marsco, ethics counsel at the nonprofit Campaign Legal Center, told CBS News.

Over the past year—while Kelly was serving in the White House as one of Trump’s top advisers—Caliburn’s subsidiary, Comprehensive Health Services, went from having a capacity of 1,250 beds to containing 3,200 beds in one of its detention centers.

On social media, critics expressed outrage at the news that Kelly is now helping to lead and profiting from a company that benefited from President Donald Trump’s aggressive anti-immigration policies.

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