The Trump administration is shifting some of the caretaking of migrant children toward the private sector and contractors instead of the largely religious-based nonprofits that have long cared for migrant children in the custody of the federal government, according to a joint investigation by The Associated Press and the PBS series FRONTLINE.
The investigation found that sheltering migrant children has become a growing business for Comprehensive Health Services Inc., a Florida-based company that currently operates six shelters and houses nearly one in four migrant children. In 2015, the federal government paid CHS $1.3 million to care for migrant children. So far this year, the government has paid CHS almost $300 million.
The company continues to receive government money even as the number of children in government custody has declined. According to the investigation, CHS is still staffing a large Florida facility with 2,000 workers even though the last children left in August. Trump administration officials said CHS is keeping the shelter on standby in case it needs to quickly provide beds for more migrant children.
CHS is owned by Caliburn International Corp. Retired general and former White House chief of staff John Kelly joined Caliburn’s board this year after stepping down from decades of government service. Kelly first served in the Trump administration as secretary of homeland security. He backed the idea of taking children from their parents at the border, saying it would discourage people from trying to immigrate or seek asylum.
Critics say this means Kelly now stands to financially benefit from a policy he helped create.