Three Florida lawmakers are demanding an investigation into a $341 million contract that was awarded to a company that runs a migrant detention center. The company, Comprehensive Health Services, owns the Homestead migrant detention center, which is the only shelter not subject to routine inspections by state child-welfare experts. Former Trump White House Chief of Staff John Kelly recently joined the board of Caliburn International, which owns Comprehensive Health Services. Critics argue that Kelly’s role in orchestrating the Trump administration’s child-separation policy is a conflict of interest in helping oversee a company that profits from the same policy. The Homestead center is primarily for unaccompanied minors, but children separated from their parents have also been detained there.
The lawmakers sent a letter Monday to the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, demanding that the IG look into how the contract was awarded and explain Kelly’s role in engineering the deal. “It is disconcerting that such a critical contract would be awarded without an open bid process with comprehensive vetting. We respectfully ask that your office conduct an audit of the contracting process carried out by the department,” the letter states. “... We find it troubling that General Kelly’s tenure in the administration led to a dramatic increase in both the number of children held at the Homestead facility and the duration of time that accompanied children are being kept in government custody.”