ICE canceling operation targeting illegal immigrants with sex crime convictions, ex-chief Homan says
Operation Talon targets illegal immigrants with sex crime convictions.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has canceled an operation that targets illegal immigrants with convictions for sex crimes, former head of the agency Thomas Homan told Fox News.
“On Wednesday, February 3rd, another email went out to the field shutting down the national Operation Talon, that sought to arrest at-large illegal aliens with sex crime convictions to include child molestation,” he said.
The Washington Post first reported on the development, reporting that Talon targeted sex offenders and that it had been planned in the final weeks of the Trump administration. An ICE official told the outlet that the Biden administration has nothing to do with the decision, but that it was possible staffers set it aside while awaiting new instructions from the administration.
“Thousands of investigative hours go into planning for these operations from identifying targets, to locating them, to ensuring appropriate coordination with other law enforcement entities,” Homan said.
An ICE spokesperson told Fox News it was not able to confirm or discuss future operations until they are complete.
The Biden administration has taken a dramatically different approach to immigration enforcement from the Trump administration. Specifically, Biden’s DHS has sought to impose a 100-day moratorium on deportations — but has been blocked by a judge’s ruling in response to a lawsuit from Texas.
Opponents of the deportation pause have warned that it will stop criminals from being deported and put Americans at risk. And Homan says ICE is essentially defying the ruling from Texas by its additional guidance on enforcement priorities.
Those priorities include those engaged in terrorism, those apprehended after Nov. 1, 2020, and those released from jail after Jan. 20 who have been convicted of an “aggravated felony.”
Homan obtained an email sent to agents that says ICE’s convictions priorities would generally “not include drug based crimes (less serious offenses), simple assault, DUI, money laundering, property crimes, fraud, tax crimes, solicitation, or charges without convictions.”
“You have to commit a serious felony and be convicted of it to be even prioritized for arrest and removal and that sends a message to the rest of the world,” Homan told Fox. “If you can get by the Border Patrol, as long as you are not convicted of a serious felony after you’re here, you can stay — because ICE isn’t looking for you.”
“It’s another enticement, another message to the rest of the world that’s going to cause a bigger surge at the border for people trying to get into the country,” he said.
An ICE spokesperson told Fox News that guidance in an initial Jan. 20 memo from Homeland Security Acting Secretary David Pekoske “makes clear that a person who poses a public safety threat is not only someone who has committed an aggravated felony.”
“The commission of an aggravated felony is the most conclusive proof of a public safety threat. ICE retains its unlimited discretion to evaluate any conduct in defining a public safety threat. The January 20 memorandum is clear on this point,” the spokesperson said.
But Homan said the instructions being given to ICE defiy the court order against the deportation pause by ordering an “immediate and major limitation in enforcement.” He pointed to statistics that more than 90% of ICE arrests are of those with criminal convictions or charges.
“So why is there a need to re-prioritize? They already prioritize nine out of 10 are criminals, but they want less arrests, less removals,” he said.
Homan’s warnings come amid warnings from Republicans in Congress about the growing surge in illegal migration at the U.S. border. More than 50 Republicans wrote to President Biden saying that numbers are surging amid a liberalization of policy by the administration.
Adam Shaw is a reporter covering U.S. and European politics for Fox News. He can be reached at [email protected]