John Kelly All Set To Get Rich Off Of Baby Jails. America!
John Kelly, the former Homeland Security secretary and former chief of staff to Donald Trump, has a brand new job! Kelly's the genius who brought America the family separation policy -- sure, he had help, but it was his screaming stolen baby from the start. So it makes all kinds of sense that after being quitfired from the White House, he has now joined the board of directors of Caliburn International, a conglomerate that owns "Comprehensive Health Services." That's the for-profit company that runs a huge immigration detention facility for "unaccompanied alien children" in Homestead, Florida, as well as three other baby jails in Texas.
Kelly was spotted going into the Homestead shelter by protesters outside in April; not long after, he was recorded by a local teevee station being squired around the grounds in a golf cart. Does anyone associated with the Trump administration walk, ever?
It's almost like a double homewrecker's homecoming for the retired general, since in addition to keeping his hand in the child immigrant misery game, CBS reports this is a corporate reunion for Kelly: "Prior to joining the Trump administration in January 2017, Kelly had been on the board of advisors of DC Capital Partners, an investment firm that now owns Caliburn." The Caliburn board is just stuffed full of retired military brass, and its "portfolio includes work in a variety of defense sectors." Plus, of course, the concentration camps for kids who cross the border alone and are waiting to be put into foster care or whatever.
In a masterpiece of corporate puffery, Caliburn CEO James Van Dusen offered this statement:
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.
Putting children in cages to deter people from seeking asylum is certainly an odd spin on "humanitarian leadership." But when he got to the part about his company's immigration jail business, Van Dusen's spin went positively circular:
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.
Once ICE finishes arresting any undocumented family members foolish enough to come forward, we presume.
And what a booming business Comprehensive Health Services is doing! CBS News notes it's "the only private company operating shelters," and has rapidly become "one of the most dominant players in the industry." Yes, America, we have an immigrant child detention industry! Trump really did come through on creating jobs, that's for sure.
Last August, it secured three licenses for facilities in Texas, totaling 500 beds, and in December, the Homestead facility began expanding from a capacity of 1,250 beds to 3,200.
And as Yr Wonkette noted in February, the Homeland shelter shares one of the troubling aspects of that now-closed tent city for migrant kids outside Tornillo, Texas: Since it's technically a "temporary emergency shelter" designated to handle overcrowding in the government's licensed shelter system, it isn't subject to the same regulations normal baby jails are. As the Miami Heraldexplained at the time,
Being unlicensed means the facilities like Homestead don't have to be certified by state authorities responsible for regulating facilities that house children. Temporary shelters also don't have to comply with the 1997 "Flores Settlement," which limits the length of time and conditions under which U.S. officials can detain unaccompanied minors — 20 days.
And as CBS News points out, that also means no pesky inspections by state child-welfare authorities. Everything's just fine, though, for sure!
Teens sleep in bunk-bed-lined dorm rooms, ranging in size from small rooms that fit 12 younger children to enormous halls shared by as many as 200 17-year-old boys, in rows of beds about shoulder-width apart.
During a tour in February, a program coordinator told CBS News that the older children prefer the cavernous digs. "They say it's like a slumber party," she said.
Sounds like a lot of fun! You'll also be delighted to know that even though Comprehensive Health Services and DC Capital landed a bunch of lucrative government contracts while John Kelly was Trump's chief of staff, a Columbia Law School prof, Richard Briffault, told CBS News Kelly may not have done anything illegal by taking a job with his old outfit. It's just one of those military-industrial complexities, you see:
"It sounds like he's running between the raindrops. It doesn't sound great, but most likely he's not directly violating any policies," Briffault told CBS News. Briffault said government officials are barred from benefiting from their involvement in matters that involve specific parties, meaning that while serving at the White House, Kelly could not directly influence any decision to award a contract to a DC Capital company.
Unless of course he ignored those rules, but who ever heard of a member of Team Trump doing such a thing? Everyone is exonerated forever, hadn't you heard?
Briffault described Kelly's returning to his previous employer, which now happens to be the biggest player in the for-profit baby jail business, as a "classic" example of the "revolving door" between government and industry. As long as Kelly doesn't do any lobbying on DC Capital's behalf for five years after leaving government, he's golden. For all we know, he may be planning to demonstrate that the private sector can terrorize immigrant families even more effectively than the government. But that wouldn't violate any ethics rules.
And in case you're wondering, the Homestead shelter is surrounded by barbed wire fences and private security guards. Not a revolving door on the grounds, no sir.
[CBS News / Miami Herald / Photoshoop based on Health and Human Services image; John Kelly was not photographed in an empty shelter]
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.