Get PolitiFact in your inbox.

Viral image
stated on February 26, 2023 in an Instagram post:
Former President Donald Trump “was the 1st president in U.S. history to acknowledge that children are being sold for sex in the U.S.” while President Joe Biden “rescinded Trump’s executive order that helped combat child sex trafficking.”
true false
Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke February 27, 2023

Social media posts distort Trump, Biden child sex trafficking records

If Your Time is short

  • Presidents who held office before former President Donald Trump acknowledged child sex trafficking in the United States. 
     
  • President Joe Biden didn’t revoke Trump’s executive order to fight child sex trafficking in the United States.
 

In January 2020, then-President Donald Trump issued an executive order "on combating human trafficking and online child exploitation in the United States."

Was his recognition of child sex trafficking historic? A recent Instagram post suggests as much. 

"Trump was the 1st president in U.S. history to acknowledge that children are being sold for sex in the U.S.," the Feb. 26 post says. "On his 2nd day in office, Biden rescinded Trump’s executive order that helped combat child sex trafficking."

This 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 Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

A few quick online searches show that Trump wasn’t the first president to acknowledge child sex trafficking in the United States.

In September 2012, for example, then-President Barack Obama announced "efforts to combat human trafficking at home and abroad." 

During a speech that month, Obama said: "​​But for all the progress that we’ve made, the bitter truth is that trafficking also goes on right here, in the United States. It’s the migrant worker unable to pay off the debt to his trafficker. The man, lured here with the promise of a job, his documents then taken, and forced to work endless hours in a kitchen. The teenage girl, beaten, forced to walk the streets. This should not be happening in the United States of America."

In 1998, then-President Bill Clinton issued a "Presidential Directive on Steps to Combat Violence Against Women and Trafficking in Women and Girls," which his administration called "the first presidential directive ever on the subject."

During Clinton’s administration, the U.S. State Department participated in a project with Harvard University concerning "commercial sexual exploitation, including trafficking of women and children," per the agency’s summary of Clinton’s anti-trafficking initiatives. 

And then-President George W. Bush’s administration touted his efforts to fight human trafficking, noting on the White House’s website that thousands of men, women and children are trafficked into the United States each year and are "recruited, transported, or sold into all forms of forced labor and servitude, including prostitution, sweatshops, domestic labor, farming, and child armies. Approximately 80% of trafficking victims are female, and 70% of those female victims are trafficked for the commercial sex industry."

President Joe Biden was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2021. Did he rescind Trump’s executive order combating child sex trafficking on Jan. 21, 2021? 

During his first few days in office, Biden revoked multiple executive orders issued by Trump, but reviewing the federal register, White House briefings on presidential actions and news reports, we found none that amounted to Biden rescinding a Trump order to fight child sex trafficking. 

Bridgette Carr, director of the Human Trafficking Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School, told The Associated Press in December that she was "unaware of any executive order on child sex trafficking reversed by Biden."

We rate claims that Trump was the first president to acknowledge child sex trafficking in the United States, and that Biden revoked Trump’s executive order to combat it, False.

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Ciara O'Rourke

Social media posts distort Trump, Biden child sex trafficking records

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up