Caliburn International is a military contracting conglomerate. The company also operates the largest detention center for unaccompanied migrant children in the United States. The company has been in the news ever since it confirmed that former White House chief of staff John Kelly has joined its board of directors.
Caliburn is the parent company of Comprehensive Health Services, the company which operates a huge detention site in Homestead, Florida. Comprehensive Health Services also operates three shelters for unaccompanied migrant children in Texas.
Here’s what you need to know about Caliburn International:
1. The Homestead Detention Facility Has Been Compared to a ‘Prison Camp’ by Its Critics
Caliburn International is the parent company of Comprehensive Health Services, which operates the country’s largest detention center for unaccompanied migrant children. That detention center, Homestead, has been described as a “prison camp” by its critics, according to an NPR report.
NPR reported that, when Homestead opened its doors to journalists, the journalists saw a disciplined, orderly center where children were kept to strict rules but were also given birthday celebrations, space to play soccer, and ice cream as a reward for good behavior. But NPR also spoke to lawyers who said the children in the camp were “traumatized” and were not even allowed to hug each other.
“We see a very different picture,” Leecia Welch, the senior director of legal advocacy and child welfare at the National Center for Youth Law, told NPR. “We see extremely traumatized children, some of whom sit across from us and can’t stop crying over what they’re experiencing. We hear stories of children who are told from the first day of their orientation that under no circumstances can they touch another child in the facility, even their own sibling, even friends who they’re saying goodbye to after many months of shared intense experience. They can’t hug them goodbye. If they do, they’re told they will be written up and it could affect their immigration case.”
2. Caliburn International Told Potential Shareholders that the Trump Administration’s Border Policy Was ‘Driving Significant Growth’ for the Company
In 2018, Caliburn International announced that it was planning to go public. The company filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission and announced its plans to go public. As part of its announcement, Caliburn International said that the Trump administration’s “border enforcement and immigration policy … is driving significant growth.” But Caliburn International also warned potential investors that its role in migration detention could be a liability, writing that the “challenging and politically charged environment” could “adversely impact our share price.”
3. Caliburn International Is the Parent Company of a Military Contractor that was Accused of Paying Bribes to Iraqi Officials
Caliburn International is a military contracting conglomerate. It’s the parent company of Sallyport Global Services, a military contractor which operates military bases in the Middle East and Asia. Sallyport operates Balad Air Base, an Iraqi base funded by the US government and located in Baghdad.
In February, the Daily Beast reported that the US Department of Justice was investigating Sallyport Global Services over charges that the company was involved in allegedly bribing Iraqi government officials in return for exclusive contracts. The Daily Beast also reported that Sallyport may have ties to a Kuwaiti company called Afaq which, the site said, allegedly sold access and dictated terms for a number of American military contracts.
4. Caliburn International Decided not to Go Public After the Media Published Reports of a Government Investigation
In October 2018, Caliburn International announced plans to become a publicly-traded company. The company said that it planned to sell $100 million in shares. But in March, Caliburn announced that it was canceling its plans to go public.
The company did not explain why it had decided not to go public. The announcement came just after the Daily Beast published two reports by the Government Accountability Project on Caliburn and its subsidiaries. Those reports described allegations that Sallyport Global, a military contractor owned by Caliburn, allowed out animal abuse, racism, and theft on the Balad air force base in Iraq. The reports also described a federal investigation into whether bribes were paid to a company that was allegedly linked to former Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki in exchange for a contract to manage a base in Iraq.
5. Kelly Used to Sit on the Board of the Company that Owns Caliburn International
John Kelly joined the Trump administration as White House chief of staff in January 2017. Before that, Kelly had been a member of the board of directors of DC Capital Partners. DC Capital is an private equity firm which now owns Caliburn International.
DC Capital invests in companies that provide government services in a number of sectors, including intelligence, information technology, security, operations and maintenance, and engineering and construction.