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Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman February 25, 2021

No, Biden didn’t cancel a child sex ring operation started by Trump

If Your Time is short

  • Operation Talon was created to target immigrants in the country illegally with sex crime convictions, not solely child sex offenders, and it was shelved by ICE, not Biden, as the agency awaits new operating guidelines from the new administration.

  • There’s no evidence that the program, which is said to have started weeks before Trump left office, was already in operation or responsible for thousands of arrests. 

President Joe Biden’s early actions in office have generated plenty of false claims.

A new one circulating on social media criticizes the commander in chief for supposedly doing away with a Trump-era investigative operation into child sex rings.

"Biden cancels Trump’s child sex ring operation which saw thousands of arrests last year. Why would he do that?" the Facebook post reads.

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

It’s not clear what the post is referencing. But we know that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) recently postponed a program known as "Operation Talon," which was created to target undocumented immigrants with known criminal activity related to sex offenses.

The operation’s focus was not only on child sex-related crimes, and there’s no evidence it amassed thousands of arrests in 2020, as the post claims. That’s because Operation Talon was initiated in the final weeks of Trump’s administration.

ICE in early February shelved the program, one of a number of actions that signaled a shift in enforcement plans as it awaited guidance from newly appointed Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. An agency spokesperson said that the Biden administration had nothing to do with the suspension. It’s unclear whether or when Operation Talon will be operational.

Featured Fact-check

Operation Talon was meant to target immigrants who are in the country without legal immigration status and who had pending criminal charges with known criminal activity related to sex offenses. It was a new effort under the agency’s Sex Offender Alien Removal initiative, or SOAR. That initiative is still ongoing, and ICE also investigates sex offenses involving U.S. citizens and noncitizens through its Homeland Security Investigations division

There is no evidence that Operation Talon was up and running, let alone that it had managed to make "thousands" of arrests in 2020, as the Facebook post claims, given that it was created just weeks before Biden took office.

Claims that Biden canceled the program appear to have started after a Washington Post story examined some forthcoming changes that the agency announced Feb. 18

Our ruling

A Facebook post says Biden canceled a child sex ring operation that started under Trump and saw "thousands of arrests last year." 

This isn’t accurate. Operation Talon was not focused on child sex offenders; it was created to target immigrants in the country illegally who were convicted of sex crimes. It was put on pause by ICE officials as the agency awaits new operating guidelines from the Biden new administration. 

The agency still investigates sex offenses through its Sex Offender Alien Removal initiative, or SOAR," and through its Homeland Security Investigations division. There’s no evidence that the program, which was said to have started weeks before Trump left office, was already in operation or responsible for thousands of arrests. 

We rate this False.

Our Sources

Facebook post, Feb. 23, 2021

U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, Fugitive Operations, Accessed Feb. 24, 2021 

U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, ICE announces temporary guidelines for its enforcement and removal operations, Feb. 18, 2021 

U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, Accessed Feb. 24, 2021 

Washington Post, New Biden rules for ICE point to fewer arrests and deportations, and a more restrained agency, Feb. 7, 2021 

Washington Post, Biden memo for ICE officers points to fewer deportations and strict oversight, Feb. 18, 2021  

Snopes, Did Biden Cancel Operation Talon? Feb. 24, 2021

Email interview, Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson, Feb. 24, 2021

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More by Samantha Putterman

No, Biden didn’t cancel a child sex ring operation started by Trump

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