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Fact check: Decision to postpone Operation Talon was made by ICE and not Biden administration, DHS says

A month into U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration, posts circulated on social media claiming that the new president had canceled Operation Talon, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) initiative aimed at deporting sex offenders living in the United States illegally. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) told Reuters the operation was not canceled but postponed, and the logistical decision to do so was made by ICE operators, not the president.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

Examples of posts making this claim can be found here , here and here .

Some posts, calling Biden “pedojoe” and #BidenPhile ( here , here ) speak to tenets of the sprawling QAnon conspiracy theory, whose followers hold that former President Donald Trump is secretly fighting a cabal of child-sex predators that includes prominent Democrats, Hollywood elites and “deep state” allies (here).

Many of the posts include a link to an article on a website called Human Events with the headline “Biden cancels Trump’s ‘Operation Talon’ Program that Targeted Sex Offenders Living in U.S. Illegally” (here).

Earlier this month, The Washington Post reported here that ICE officials had “canceled Operation Talon, a nationwide operation targeting sex offenders subject to deportation that had been planned in the final weeks of the Trump administration.”

A senior ICE official, however, reportedly told The Post that “the Biden administration had nothing to do with that decision. Speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters, the official said they had not heard about the operation, but that it was possible that career staffers had planned it and set it aside while awaiting new instructions from the Biden team.”

An official from DHS told Reuters via email that Operation Talon was not cancelled, but postponed, and that the logistical decision to delay the schedule was made by operator-level officers, not the Biden administration or DHS leadership. (ICE is an agency operating under DHS.)

The DHS representative explained that Operation Talon is part of a larger and longstanding initiative known as Operation SOAR (“Sex Offender Alien Removal”), which is still ongoing (here).

As reported here by Charleston, South Carolina’s WCIV ABC News 4, a coalition of 18 state attorneys general signed a letter “urging Biden's administration to reverse their cancellation of Operation Talon, which focuses on removing convicted sex offenders living illegally in the U.S.”

The letter, written by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and available here , states that the “ill-devised decision” to “cancel” Operation Talon “threatens to empower sexual predators to victimize women and children in America, and to exacerbate the tragic crises of sexual assault and sex trafficking among migrant and immigrant communities.” 

Robert Kittle, Communications Director for South Carolina office of the Attorney General Alan Wilson told Reuters they stood by their press release www.scag.gov/archives/42044 that claims Biden’s administration cancelled the operation. When asked about reports that the operation was postponed by operator-level officers, Kittle told Reuters, “Regardless of who made the decision, the letter from the attorneys general is asking President Biden to reverse the decision, since it is his administration.”

The White House did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment.

VERDICT

Missing context. According to the DHS, Operation Talon was not canceled, but rather postponed for logical reasons. The decision was made by ICE operators, not President Biden’s administration, the department said.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts www.reuters.com/fact-check/about .

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