Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly joined the board of directors at a company which runs detention centers for migrant children, CBS reported Friday. (Photo: Jim Greenhill/Flickr/cc)

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

"This one's particularly ugly."

Julia Conley

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.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

UN Chief Urges Global Solidarity on Covid, Climate, and Debt Relief

"The last two years have demonstrated a simple but brutal truth, if we leave anyone behind, in the end, we leave everyone behind," said the secretary-general at the opening of the virtual Davos summit.

Jessica Corbett ·


Sinema's MLK Day Tweet Sparks Online Fury

One group criticized the Democratic senator from Arizona as "the white moderate MLK warned us about."

Andrea Germanos ·


Why Did Democratic AG Kill Flint Water RICO Case?

"Political corruption poisoned Flint and political corruption shielded the wrongdoers from accountability," said one critic following new revelations.

Kenny Stancil ·


Progressives Counter Cherry-Picked Quotes With MLK's True Legacy

Calling out those who have "weaponized" his words "to justify legislated white supremacy," Rep. Ayanna Pressley said King "was a radical dreamer with a bold vision for revolutionary change."

Jessica Corbett ·


'No Celebration Without Legislation': King Family Leads Voting Rights March

"I will not accept empty promises in pursuit of my father's dream," said Martin Luther King III.

Andrea Germanos ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo