Rep. Pramila Jayapal is seeking more information on reports that former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, after helping to implement the administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, has joined the board of directors of the company that operates the largest shelter for unaccompanied migrant children.
Jayapal, D-Seattle, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., wrote to that company, Caliburn International, on Thursday, asking for details and records on Kelly’s appointment and compensation, describing his shift to the company as “cynical and unethical.”
They accuse Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general, of using his position first as secretary of homeland security and then as chief of staff to implement immigration policies, including the separation of migrant children from their parents, that he then profited from after resigning.
Warren, who is running for president, previously wrote to Kelly in early May, asking him to reconsider the position with Caliburn, calling it “immoral and unethical.”
“General Kelly’s role in promoting and helping execute these cruel immigration policies remains a stain on his decades of public service,” the two lawmakers wrote. “It is outrageous that he now appears to be cashing in on those same policies, as a board member for the company that benefited from his actions as a government official.”
Caliburn International did not immediately return requests for comment.
The letter leans heavily on a CBS News report from early May, that revealed Kelly had joined Caliburn’s board of directors. Caliburn’s latest filings with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission say that members of its board are paid $100,000 a year, plus anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500 for each meeting they attend.
Caliburn is the parent company of Comprehensive Health Services, which runs four shelters for unaccompanied migrant children — three in Texas, and the nation’s largest such shelter, in Florida, according to the CBS report.
That report says the company could receive up to $341 million in federal money over the next six months just for operating the Florida shelter, where it also plans to increase capacity by nearly 40 percent.
As of early April, one in six migrant children in U.S. custody were at the Florida camp, Warren and Jayapal wrote. The U.S. Border Patrol’s apprehensions at the southern border hit their highest level in more than a decade in May, including more than 11,000 children traveling alone, according to the agency.
Six migrant children have died in federal custody — or soon after being released — this year, the letter says.
“It is disheartening that General Kelly, with his decades of public service, used his position to implement such cruel policies,” Jayapal and Warren wrote, “and then left the government to profit from them.”