Group Blasts Former Trump Chief of Staff for Joining Board of Company Housing Migrant Children

Kelly Was Early Supporter of Administration’s Family Separation Policy as Deterrent

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, following news that former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has joined the board of directors for a company operating the largest shelter for migrant children in the United States, Restore Public Trust blasted the former Trump administration official for his role pursuing anti-immigrant policies that supported family separations and a massive increase in the number of migrant children in U.S. custody.

“John Kelly was an early supporter of ripping migrant children away from their families. At the time, he claimed it would be a deterrent to others seeking refuge at our border, but now it looks like he may have had other motivations in mind,” said Karl Frisch, a spokesperson for Restore Public Trust. “Children have been abused and sexually assaulted. Some have even died. John Kelley should be ashamed of his role in this policy and rather than taking a ride on the revolving door of beltway influence peddling, he should be fighting to reverse the damage he’s done.”

As CBS News reported this afternoon:

…Caliburn International confirmed to CBS News that Kelly had joined its board of directors. Caliburn is the parent company of Comprehensive Health Services, which operates Homestead and three other shelters for unaccompanied migrant children in Texas.


During Kelly’s tenure, the administration pursued ambitious changes to immigration enforcement, and the average length of stay for an unaccompanied migrant child in U.S. custody skyrocketed.


  • Kelly And Sessions Played “Crucial Roles” In Resurrecting And Implementing Family Separation Policy. “It was an idea conceived by senior immigration enforcement officials and U.S. border agents who had confronted the migrant crisis of 2014. By ramping up criminal prosecutions and separating families who entered the country illegally, they said, the government could stop the influx. Their idea went to top Obama administration officials at the White House and the Department of Homeland Security. Then it went into a drawer, like a blueprint for a weapon too terrible to use… It took the alignment of four distinct personalities to dust off the idea and turn it into a legal, operational and message-driven system for family separation at the border. President Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller and White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly played crucial roles in resurrecting the proposal and making it actionable.” [Washington Post, 6/19/18]
  • Kelly Said In March 2017 Family Separation Policy Was Under Consideration. “Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly confirmed that the department is considering separating children from their parents at the border. ‘We have tremendous experience of dealing with unaccompanied minors,’ he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on ‘The Situation Room.’ ‘We turn them over to (Health and Human Services) and they do a very, very good job of putting them in foster care or linking them up with parents or family members in the United States.’ He continued: ‘Yes I’m considering (that), in order to deter more movement along this terribly dangerous network. I am considering exactly that. They will be well cared for as we deal with their parents. […] It’s more important to me, Wolf, to try to keep people off of this awful network.’” [CNN, 3/7/17]
  • April 2017: Kelly Said Children Would Only Be Separated From Families “If The Child’s Life” Was In Danger Or If Mother Was An Addict. “Kelly, testifying before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs… was also pressed on separating mothers from their children at the border, but said that they would only be separated ‘if the child’s life is in danger’ or if the mother is an addict. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., asked Kelly whether he would put the policy in writing, but he responded saying a ‘verbal directive’ is enough.” [Fox News, 4/5/17]
  • Kelly Continued Defending Child Separation Policy. “President Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly defended the technique of separating undocumented immigrants from their children as a necessary evil in the administration’s effort to increase border security during an interview with National Public Radio Thursday. Kelly told NPR that ‘the vast majority’ of the immigrants ‘are not bad people.’ ‘They’re not criminals. They’re not MS-13,’ Kelly said. ‘But they’re also not people that would easily assimilate into the United States into our modern society. They’re overwhelmingly rural people.’ He said they are poorly educated, don’t speak English — ‘obviously that’s a big thing’ — and don’t have skills, so they ‘don’t integrate well.’” [USA Today, 5/11/18]

# # #


Press Release

Comments are disabled.