Former White House chief of staff John Kelly has joined the board of directors for a company that operates shelters for undocumented migrant children.
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Kelly was a top aide to President Donald Trump when he enacted his “zero-tolerance” policy at the border which forced the separation of some 2,700 children from their families in a matter of weeks and sent them to privately run shelters across the U.S.
The Trump administration has since abandoned forced family separations and reunited almost all of those families under a court order. But the government says some 12,650 children remain in shelters as of this week – mostly older children and teens who arrived at the border alone and are waiting to be placed with sponsors.
Caliburn International, the parent company of Comprehensive Health Services – which oversees one of the largest shelters for migrant children – announced Friday that Kelly would join the board with several other retired military brass. CBS News first reported the appointment.
“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,” according to a statement by James Van Duse, CEO of Caliburn International.
Trump’s critics, including some Democrats in Congress, have called to close down Homestead and other shelters and allow children to be placed with sponsors immediately. The federal government has countered that some time is needed to ensure kids aren’t being placed in dangerous situations.
“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,” Van Duse said in his statement.
U.S. border officials have insisted that it no longer separates families at the border except in rare circumstances, such as when there is evidence of a serious crime. They say the large number of minors is part of a broader influx of migrants arriving at the border from Central America seeking asylum.