ICE watch on sex offenders must be reinstated, says Buchanan

Operation Talon, a large federal operation that targeted sexual predators living illegally in the country, was recently axed and U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) wants to know why.

The program, organized by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to find and deport any illegal immigrants with a criminal record of assault against women or children, had been launched during the end of the Trump administration and then cancelled under the Biden administration.

“With sex crimes including human trafficking continuing to rise in the U.S., now is clearly not the time to thwart efforts intended to remove these dangerous predators from our country. Canceling this program makes absolutely no sense and sends the wrong message,” wrote Rep. Buchanan in a Feb. 23 letter sent to U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and ICE Acting Director Tae Johnson. 

“It’s unclear whether the cancellation of ‘Operation Talon’ was intentional or collateral damage in your softening of immigration enforcement,” the congressman wrote, “but regardless the program needs to be reinstated.”

In his letter, Rep. Buchanan noted that human trafficking cases in America have more than doubled in the last four years, while other sex-related crimes also have increased. He cited data collected between October 2014 and May 2018 by Syracuse University showing that ICE officials arrested nearly 20,000 illegal immigrants previously convicted of sex-related crimes, including sexual assault, child molestation, rape, and human trafficking.

“My home state of Florida has the third-highest number of human trafficking cases of any state,” the lawmaker wrote. “Abruptly scrapping this important federal operation exposes potentially countless victims to these dangerous predators.”

Rep. Buchanan called on the federal government to put its full weight behind Operation Talon rather than stepping back from it, according to his letter.

“America should not be viewed as a sanctuary country to these criminals,” he wrote. “The administration owes the country an explanation for this decision and it should reverse the action to show that it is serious in addressing these types of heinous crimes.”