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Why was ‘Operation Talon’ cancelled? Was it operational in the first place?

Bruno Cooke March 9, 2021
why was operation talon cancelled
Photo by Pete Marovich/Pool/Getty Images

Several attorneys general have signed a letter to Joe Biden calling for the reversal of the cancellation of Operation Talon, a Trump administration initiative aimed at removing convicted sex offenders living in the US illegally. So, why was Operation Talon cancelled, and how have people reacted?

What was Operation Talon?

Operation Talon targets convicted sex offenders who reside illegally in the United States, for deportation, according to ABC News.

The Trump administration introduced the initiative, although it seems to have roots in a pilot program, also called Operation Talon, first trialled in May 1997, in Kentucky.

That pilot program was a result of Clinton’s Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (more commonly, the Welfare Reform Act) of 1996. 

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The Act gave law enforcement agencies “new authority to match felony fugitive files with government records of current and former food stamp recipients”.

But Trump’s Operation Talon, part of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), was a nationwide program. It specifically targeted immigrants with convictions for sex crimes.

Why was Operation Talon cancelled?

So far, there has been no official response as to why Operation Talon was cancelled.

At the same time, the only official information on anything called Operation Talon are the aforementioned reports on the Operation Talon that existed in 1997.

How have people reacted?

An opinion piece on conservative website Human Events argues that the cancellation of Operation Talon “simply does not make sense”.

It cites a coalition of attorneys general, who wrote a letter to President Joe Biden arguing against the cancellation.

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On behalf of the joint authors, South Carolina attorney general Alan Wilson wrote, “allowing convicted sex offenders who are here illegally to remain in our country makes absolutely no sense.”

“If the United States will not remove even convicted sex offenders, whom will it remove?”

Over on Twitter…

Meanwhile, Twitter users have been quick to highlight Trump’s own dubious record.

At the same time, others have joined the ranks of those opposing the decision of the Biden administration.

Below all the Twitter furore hums a sceptical voice, asking how many people have actually informed themselves about Operation Talon before tweeting about it.

Was Operation Talon ever actually operational?

Part of this debate boils down to semantics. 

The Trump administration formalised Operation Talon during Trump’s last few weeks in office. There are those who assert that it was never actually operational – therefore there was nothing, per se, to cancel.

Moreover, according to one commentator, the Biden administration’s decision actually amounts to a review, not an overt cancellation.

Overall, the lack of any mainstream media coverage raises questions. The only large media organisation to cover the story is Fox News, a vocal champion of Trump’s cause.

To what extent is this Twitter storm being fabricated by antagonisers of the new government, and carried by ill- or misinformed internet users?

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Bruno is a novelist, amateur screenwriter and journalist with interests in digital media, storytelling, film and politics. He’s lived in France, China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, but returned to the UK for a degree (and because of the pandemic) in 2020. His articles have appeared in Groundviews, Forge Press and The Friday Poem, and most are readable on Medium or onurbicycle.com.