The statement: Biden rescinded a Trump executive order targeting child sex trafficking on his second day in office
An Instagram post dated February 26 (direct link, archive link) says President Joe Biden reversed an effort by President Donald Trump to combat child sex trafficking.
“Trump was the 1st president in US history to acknowledge that children are being sold for sex in the US, and the 1st president to open a White House office to form coalitions with law enforcement to save America’s children,” the post read. “On his 2nd day in office, Biden rescinded Trump’s Executive Order that would have helped fight child sex trafficking.”
The post has been liked more than 2,000 times in less than two weeks.
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Our assessment: False
Biden did not overturn Trump’s order on child sex trafficking. He introduced an updated plan to fight child trafficking in December 2021. The post is also wrong that Trump is the first president to recognize child sex trafficking.
Biden’s early actions did not change Trump’s order
The social media post did not specify which order was allegedly canceled, but Trump posted at least two that directly addressed human trafficking. He signed an executive order in 2017, entitled “Enforcing Federal Law Regarding Transnational Criminal Organizations and Prevention of International Trafficking“, and another in 2020, titled “Combating Human Trafficking and Online Child Exploitation in the United States.”
The president can void the executive order of a predecessor issuing new ones, but none of Biden’s 19 orders issued through Jan. 22, 2021 — his third day in office — touched Trump’s traffic order.
One of Biden 77 orders posted in 2021 he changed Trump’s 2017 order on traffic. But he did not “cancel” anything, he assigned the same work to a new similar group.
Trump’s order tasked the existing Threat Mitigation Task Force with coordinating the government’s response to transnational organized crime, a category that includes human trafficking. By Biden December 15, 2021, order replaced that task force with the US Council on Transnational Organized Crime.
Both the task force and Biden’s advisers include the secretary of state, the attorney general, the secretary of homeland security and the director of national intelligence. Biden’s group also added the secretaries of defense and treasury to the list.
Biden also posted an update National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking in December 2021.
The social media publication’s claim that Trump was the first president to acknowledge sex trafficking in the United States is also false. In fact, his immediate predecessors made speeches that highlighted the issue.
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In a September 2012 speech at the Clinton Global Initiative, former President Barack Obama spoke about human trafficking in the United States
“The bitter truth is that trafficking also happens here in the United States,” he said. “It is the migrant worker unable to pay 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 teenager, beaten, forced to walk in the streets.
In July 2004, former president George W. Bush announced several initiatives to fight human trafficking.
“US law enforcement has documented cases of Latvian girls trafficked into sexual slavery in Chicago, or Ukrainian girls trafficked in Los Angeles, and Maryland, or Thai, Korean, Malaysian, and Vietnamese girls trafficked in Georgia, or girls trafficked Mexican women in California, New Jersey and here in Florida,” Bush said at the time. “Many of the victims are teenagers, some as young as 12.”
It’s unclear what the social media post is referring to when it says Trump has created the first “White House office to form coalitions with law enforcement to save America’s children.” Obama, Bush and Clinton each launched initiatives during their terms to fight human trafficking that included a focus on child trafficking.
USA TODAY has reached out to the social media user who shared the request for comment.
PolitiFact and the Associated Press has also debunked versions of the claims.
Our fact-checking sources:
Federal Register, accessed March 2, 2023, Joseph R. Biden Jr. Executive orders
Federal Register, December 20, 2021, Establishment of the United States Council on Transnational Organizations of Organized Crime and the Prevention of International Trafficking
Federal Register, January 31, 2020, Combating Human Trafficking and Online Child Exploitation in the United States
Federal Register, 14 February 2017, Enforcing Federal Law Regarding Transnational Criminal Organizations and Prevention of International Trafficking
Department of State, accessed March 7, Trafficking in women and girls
The White House, accessed March 7, Human trafficking – A new form of slavery
The White House, accessed March 7, End of human trafficking
The White House, accessed March 7, National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking
The White House, September 25, 2012, Remarks by the President at the Clinton Global Initiative
The White House, July 16, 2004, The president announces initiatives to fight human trafficking
Congressional Research Service, March 21, 2021, Executive Orders: An Introduction
PolitiFact, February 27 Social media posts distort Trump, Biden child sex-trafficking records
Associated Press, 2 Dec. 2022, No, Biden did not rescind the executive order to combat child sex trafficking
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This article originally appeared in USA TODAY: Fact check: Biden updated approach to fight child trafficking