From the first day in office and every day since, the Biden-Harris Administration has taken an historic approach to advancing racial equity, including directing every agency across the whole of the federal government to address the lasting impacts of systemic racism on Black communities. For generations, entrenched disparities in our society and economy, at times facilitated by the federal government, have made it harder for Black Americans to have a fair shot at the American dream. Centuries of injustice and decades of disinvestment in Black communities not only undermine the American promise of equal opportunity, but also keep our entire nation from reaching its potential.
After just one year in office, the Administration has delivered real and lasting change and continues to work each day to deliver equitable outcomes and opportunity for Black Americans.
Economic Opportunity for Black Families and Communities. By signing into law the historic American Rescue Plan (ARP) and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and implementing robust regulatory reform, President Biden has helped create new economic opportunities for Black Americans and made long overdue investments in Black communities. These transformative policies and programs include:
- Providing Immediate Relief to Black People and Families through the American Rescue Plan. The ARP provided cash relief directly to low- and middle-income Americans last year, and cut Black child poverty by 33.3%, lifting more than 1 million Black children out of poverty in December 2021 alone. The President’s plans call for extending this critical tax cut, which expired in December. In addition, the ARP increased Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits by 15% through September 2021. Beginning on October 1, 2021, USDA’s Thrifty Food Plan update increased SNAP benefits by $36.30 per person per month.
- Reversing Decades of Disinvestment Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. For years, politicians have talked about investing in our national infrastructure, but up until now they have failed to follow through. The lack of investment has fallen most heavily on Black and other communities of color. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will replace lead pipes, increase access to good-paying jobs, expand affordable high-speed internet, reliable public transit, clean drinking water, reconnect Black neighborhoods divided by legacy highway infrastructure and other resources to finally give Black communities a fair shot at the American Dream.
- The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law permanently authorizes the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) for the first time since its inception and elevates the agency head to the position of Under Secretary, granting the agency expanded power to support Black and other minority-owned businesses. The President’s plans would supercharge MBDA by funding it at $1.6 billion through 2029.
- EPA announced that it will allocate $2.9 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding to states, Tribes, and territories for lead service line replacement in 2022. The 2022 allocation is the first of five years of nearly $15 billion in dedicated EPA funding for lead service lines that states will receive through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. EPA will encourage states to use these funds to advance proactive lead line replacement programs with a particular focus on disadvantaged communities. Moving forward, EPA will prioritize communities with the highest lead levels and those with environmental justice concerns.
- The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law delivers the largest investment in tackling legacy pollution in American history by cleaning up Superfund and brownfield sites, reclaiming abandoned mine land, and capping orphaned oil and gas wells. More than one in four Black Americans live within 3 miles of a Superfund site– a higher percentage than for Americans overall. No community deserves to have contamination near where they live, work, play, pray, and go to school.
- Leveraging Federal Procurement to Narrow the Racial Wealth Gap for Black Entrepreneurs and Families. Recognizing that the federal government spends more than $650 billion each year on purchasing goods and services, President Biden has directed agencies to use federal purchasing power to grow federal contracting with underserved small businesses. He has set a goal of increasing the share of federal contracting dollars to small disadvantaged businesses by 50% by 2025— projected to translate to an additional $100 billion to minority-owned businesses, and helping more Americans realize their entrepreneurial dreams. In December 2021, The Administration further announced reforms to the federal procurement process to help meet the President’s ambitious target and deliver new opportunities for Black owned and other small disadvantaged businesses.
- Extending a Lifeline to Struggling Small Businesses. The American Rescue Plan provided emergency grants, lending, and investment to hard-hit small businesses – including Black businesses – so they can rehire and retain workers and purchase the health and sanitation equipment they need to keep workers safe. This includes the new $10 billion State Small Business Credit Initiative, which will provide growth capital to early stage companies and main street small businesses in economically disadvantaged areas, including minority-owned businesses.
- Ensuring Black Homeowners Get Full Value for their Homes. In June 2021, President Biden directed the launch of a first-of-its-kind interagency effort to address inequity in home appraisals and conduct rulemaking to aggressively combat housing discrimination. The effort, led by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia Fudge and Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice, is developing a set of policy actions and recommendations for President Biden to redress racial bias in home appraisals that will soon be released.
- Protecting Black Americans’ Access to Housing by Combating Housing Discrimination. Following President Biden’s Presidential Memorandum directing his Administration to address racial discrimination in the housing market, HUD published an interim final rule in the Federal Register entitled “Restoring Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Definitions and Certifications” that requires HUD funding recipients to complete an assessment of fair housing issues, identify fair housing priorities and goals, and then commit to meaningful actions to meet those goals and remedy identified issues.
- Helping Black Americans Stay in their Homes. President Biden’s American Rescue Plan has helped millions of Americans, including Black Americans, stay in their homes by providing emergency rental assistance. Of the $25 billion in rental assistance that was spent in 2021, Black Americans represented more than 40% of aid recipients. In addition, the ARP is helping struggling homeowners catch up with their mortgage payments and utility costs through the Homeowner Assistance Fund. And, it provided additional funding for families and individuals who are recovering from or at risk of homelessness.
- Assisting Black Land Owners in Resolving Title Issues. An estimated 60% of Black-owned land in the South is heirs’ property—property that passes through inheritance without a will and that, as a result, has historically rendered owners ineligible for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs, including lending. In July 2021, the USDA rolled out the Heirs’ Property Relending Program, which primarily aids underserved communities, including Black Americans. The new program provides funds to assist heirs in resolving ownership and succession issues on farmland with multiple owners.
- Dismantling Barriers to Accessing USDA Programs and Services. The ARP provides funding for USDA to establish one or more equity commissions to address historical discrimination and disparities in the agricultural sector. In February 2022, USDA announced the membership of its 15-member Equity Commission Advisory Committee and Equity Commission Subcommittee on Agriculture. The Equity Commission Advisory Committee will advise the Secretary of Agriculture by identifying USDA programs, policies, systems, structures, and practices that contribute to barriers to inclusion or access, systemic discrimination, or exacerbate or perpetuate racial, economic, health and social disparities.
- Reducing Barriers for Black Communities Facing Natural Disasters. In September 2021, FEMA implemented policy changes to reduce barriers that contributed to disparities experienced by Black Americans through programs that provide individual assistance to disaster survivors. These included changes to FEMA policies to make it easier for people living on heirs’ property – which is estimated to be the majority of Black-owned land in the South – to apply for disaster aid.
- Ensuring that Federal Grants Don’t Support Discriminatory Activities. In June 2021, the Department of Transportation (DOT) issued an Order requiring its offices to review the potential discriminatory impact of grantees’ proposed activities before awarding federal funds. Under the Order, the agency won’t award federal financial assistance unless and until the agency determines that the activities will not be discriminatory in intent or effect. Similarly, in September 2021, the Department of Justice (DOJ) began a review of its grantmaking programs, to ensure that federal funds are not distributed to agencies that engage in racial discrimination in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
- Improving the Customer Experience and Service Delivery. In December, President Biden signed the Transforming Federal Customer Experience and Service Delivery to Rebuild Trust in Government Executive Order – a commitment from federal agencies to remove red tape on critical government services like claiming retirement benefits or filing taxes and streamline and increase access to these services for all Americans.
- Reducing Child Care Cost for Black Families. The American Rescue Plan secured a $39 billion lifeline to help child care providers stay open and compensate early childhood educators, disproportionately Black Americans, as they provide safe and healthy environments for children and help parents work. Black families are nearly two times more likely than white parents to have to quit, turn down, or make a major change in their job due to child care disruptions. The pandemic exacerbated child care disruptions, and by March 2021, had already led to 9% of child care providers closing. The ARP also included an expansion of the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit; a median income family with two kids under age 13 will receive up to $8,000 towards their child care expenses when they file taxes for 2021, compared with a maximum of $1,200 previously.
- Advancing Equitable Employment Outcomes and Boosting Wages for Black Federal Workers. In June, President Biden signed an Executive Order on Advancing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) in the Federal Workforce. This Executive Order launched a whole-of-government initiative to cultivate a federal workforce that draws from the full diversity of the Nation and that advances equitable employment opportunities for workers from underserved communities. Further, in 2021 the President signed a series of executive actions leading to a $15 minimum wage for employees of federal contractors and federal employees. These actions will ensure that all federal workers, including Black federal workers, have fair access to federal employment opportunities, and will also represent a step towards addressing longstanding wage disparities.
Ensuring Equitable Educational Opportunity in K-12 Schools and an Education Beyond High School. As we continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, President Biden has delivered the support necessary to enable every school to safely reopen for full-time, in-person instruction; accelerate academic achievement; address the mental health needs of students; and build school communities where all students feel they belong. At the same time, President Biden has worked to ensure equitable access to high-quality education for Black students. These policies and programs include:
- Historic Investments to Safely Reopen Schools and Address the Needs of Students. The ARP provided $130 billion to help elementary and secondary schools safely reopen and address the academic, social and emotional and mental health needs of all students, with funding set-aside to address the needs of students disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, including Black students. The Administration’s efforts to encourage all schools to adopt the CDC’s recommendations on masking, vaccinations, and other COVID-19 protocols, have been particularly critical to the safe reopening of schools in Black communities hit hard by COVID-19. In addition to funding the implementation of COVID-19 protocols, these funds are being used to hire counselors and social workers, provide tutors, establish and expand summer and after-school programming, and provide a wide range of supports that address the needs of Black students. It also provided funds to every Head Start grantee, which disproportionately serve Black children and families, so that grantees could safely open safely for in-person services and support children and families through the pandemic.
- Protecting Students from Funding Cuts. The ARP’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief program includes a first of its kind maintenance of equity requirement to ensure that high-poverty school districts and schools are protected in the event of future funding cuts. The Department of Education has provided resources and technical assistance to states and school districts as they implement this new requirement, which will ensure that school districts and schools serving a large share of students from low-income backgrounds will not experience disproportionate cuts, and that school districts with the highest poverty levels do not experience any decrease in state per-pupil funding below their pre-pandemic level.
- Historic Support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The Biden-Harris Administration has delivered an historic $5.8 billion cumulative investment in and support for HBCUs, including:
- The ARP and other pandemic relief programs have provided approximately $3.7 billion to HBCUs since President Biden took office.
- Additionally, in April, the Department of Education provided approximately $1.6 billion in debt relief to 45 HBCUs, including 13 public institutions and 32 private institutions.
- In July and August, the Department of Education awarded more than $500 million in grant funding to HBCUs for academic capacity-building and fiscal stability.
- President Biden signed an Executive Order establishing the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Opportunity, and Excellence through HBCUs, which will create a government-wide approach to support the needs of HBCUs and the communities they serve and eliminate systemic barriers impeding HBCU participation in Federal programs, and in February 2022, appointed Dietra Trent, former Virginia Deputy Secretary of Education, as the Initiative’s Executive Director.
- During HBCU week, President Biden named Tony Allen, President of Delaware State University, as Chair of the President’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs. The President has also named Glenda Glover, President of Tennessee State University as Vice Chair of the Board. The Board, established by the Carter Administration, is meant to advance the goals of the HBCU Initiative.
Improving Health Outcomes for Black Communities. Facing a once-in a century pandemic that highlighted and exacerbated pre-existing racial disparities in our health care system, President Biden took swift action to promote better health access and outcomes for Black families. The ARP lowered health care costs for millions of lower- and middle-income Black families and invested billions to promote equitable vaccine distribution and provide critical supplies to stop the spread of COVID-19. These policies and programs include:
- Lowering Health Care Costs. Millions of lower- and middle-income Black families enrolled in health insurance marketplaces saw their premiums lowered or eliminated as a result of the ARP and will continue to benefit through the end of 2022. Thanks to the ARP, 76% of uninsured Black Americans could find a plan for less than $50 a month, and 66% could find a plan for free a month in 2021 with those subsidies. In addition, millions of uninsured Americans gained coverage during the Administration’s 2021 Special Enrollment Period (SEP). Of those newly signing up for HealthCare.gov coverage who attested to race or ethnicity, 15% were Black Americans, up over 60% from 2019.
- Improving Black Maternal Health. The Administration is also committed to improving maternal health outcomes, including addressing the unacceptably high rates of maternal mortality and morbidity that disproportionately impact Black mothers and families. The President’s FY 22 budget request includes more than $200 million to bolster Maternal Mortality Review Committees, implement implicit bias training for health care providers, and create State pregnancy medical home programs, among other actions. It also includes $6 billion for the critical Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program to help vulnerable families put healthy food on the table and address racial disparities in maternal and child health outcomes.
- The President’s plans includes a historic $3 billion investment in maternal health focused on growing and diversifying the perinatal workforce, improving data collection and maternal health risk monitoring, addressing the social factors that contribute to poor maternal health outcomes, addressing substance use disorders that impact maternal health, promoting increased maternal health research, improving postpartum coverage, and better coordinating care. This includes sparking innovation by allowing states to establish maternal health homes to better coordinate health care for individuals before, during, and following birth.
- It would also require all states to provide continuous Medicaid coverage for 12 months postpartum, eliminating potentially deadly gaps in health insurance at a critical time for individuals. Currently, states are only required to provide coverage for 60 days postpartum, despite research showing that many deaths and complications occur more than 60 days following delivery.
- The Administration has already approved a number of Medicaid demonstrations to expand postpartum coverage, including in Illinois, Virginia, and New Jersey; these states will provide full Medicaid benefits for 12 months postpartum (other states have expanded to six months postpartum coverage or expanded coverage to 10 months for those with substance use disorders). The ARP gives states an easier pathway to extend coverage for pregnant women from 60 days to 12 months postpartum; the Administration is working to encourage all states to take up this option so women can get the care they need to stay healthy.
- In April 2021, President Biden issued the first ever Presidential Proclamation on Black Maternal Health Week, calling on all Americans to recognize the importance of addressing the crisis of Black maternal mortality and morbidity.
- Further, in December 2021, Vice President Harris issued a nationwide call to action to both public and private sectors to improve health outcomes for Black mothers and their children. As part of this call to action, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued new guidance to help states provide 12 months (up from 60 days currently) of continuous postpartum coverage through their Medicaid programs. If every state adopted an extension — as required in the President’s plans —then the number of Americans getting coverage for a full year postpartum would roughly double, extending coverage for an estimated 720,000 people in a given year. HHS also announced plans to create a new “Birthing Friendly” hospital designation, which would be the first-ever hospital quality designation by HHS specifically focused on maternity care.
- Building the Pipeline of Black Health Care Providers. The Administration has made a historic $1.5 billion investment to help grow and diversify the nation’s health care workforce, and bolster equitable health care in the communities that need it most during the COVID-19 pandemic and in the years to come. This funding is supporting the National Health Service Corps, Nurse Corps, and Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery programs. These programs address workforce shortages and health disparities by providing scholarship and loan repayment funding for health care students and professionals, in exchange for a service commitment in hard-hit and high-risk communities. With funding from the American Rescue Plan, the investment supports over 22,700 providers—the largest field strength in history for these programs and a record number of skilled doctors, dentists, nurses, and behavioral health providers committed to working in underserved communities during a moment when we need them the most. Only about 5 percent of physicians in the United States identify as Black despite the fact that Black Americans account for 12 percent of the nation’s total population; over 13 percent of physicians serving through the National Health Service Corps identify as Black.
- Ensuring an Equitable Pandemic Response. Nationwide, Black people have died from COVID-19 at 1.4 times the rate of White people. The ARP provided $160 billion for the vaccines, tests, personal protective equipment, and public health workforce needed to address the spread of COVID-19, an investment that is helping to drive down racial disparities in prevention and care. Due to the ARP and the President’s other investments in equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine, multiple studies show that the gap in COVID vaccination rates in Black Americans compared to Whites and Latinos has closed. Data as of February 2022 show that 84% of Black adults, 87% of Latinos and 85% of White adults have received at least one shot, compared to 56%, 57%, and 65%, respectively, in May 2021. Additionally:
- FEMA surged resources to vaccinate all eligible Americans, including by standing up 500 vaccine sites in underserved communities. These emergency measures have helped deliver community-based and culturally competent care. In fact, over 50% of vaccines administered at the federally-run community vaccination centers went to Black Americans and other people of color, and more than 75% of people vaccinated at Community Health Centers are people of color.
- In January 2021, President Biden signed an Executive Order on Ensuring an Equitable Pandemic Response and Recovery, creating a COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force to provide specific recommendations to the President for mitigating the health inequities caused or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and for preventing such inequities in the future. The Task force transmitted its final report to the White House Office of the COVID-19 Response in November 2021, including recommendations related to interpersonal stress linked to racism, addressing the behavioral health consequences of the pandemic in communities of color, and vaccine, testing, and therapeutics access and confidence. By the end of 2021, the Administration had begun action on over 80 percent of the Task Force recommendations, and remains committed to engaging these recommendations within the historic initiatives and programs built to promote and sustain equity across the federal government. Federal agencies are now developing implementation proposals related to the policies and priorities recommended by the Task Force, which will be submitted no later than March 10.
Taking Strong Action to Reform Our Criminal Justice System. From investing in community violence interventions, to reforming law enforcement, to reducing mass incarceration practices, to supporting reentry, the Biden-Harris Administration has taken concrete actions to reform the criminal justice system and address racial disparities. These policies and programs include:
- Reforming Law Enforcement Practices. In September 2021, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a ban on use of chokeholds and carotid restraints except where deadly force is necessary, and new restrictions on no-knock warrants—implementing reforms for federal law enforcement administratively that the President had called on Congress to enact nationwide through the George Floyd Justice in Police Act. The Department also implemented a new policy requiring federal agents to wear body cameras when executing search warrants and pre-planned arrests. These changes make real the policy reform the country must undertake to prevent tragic killings like those of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in the future. The directives apply to all agencies overseen by the Department including the FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency, and U.S. Marshal’s Service. In September, the Department of Homeland Security announced the formation of the Law Enforcement Coordination Council (LECC)—the Department’s first unified law enforcement coordination body, chaired by the Secretary—to comprehensively review and revise its policies and training on use of force, compliance with civil rights and privacy interests, and other matters. In July 2021, the Department of the Interior created a task force to study and recommend reforms for its law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Park Police.
- Ensuring Constitutional Policing. The Department of Justice (DOJ) rescinded guidance issued in the previous Administration that curtailed the use of consent decrees, including within investigations into patterns or practices of discrimination and misconduct by police departments. Pattern and practice investigations and consent decrees are critical tools to promote constitutional policing in jurisdictions where reform is warranted. DOJ has opened four such investigations in Minneapolis, Louisville, Phoenix, and Mount Vernon, New York.
- Improving Prosecutorial Guidance to Prevent Unduly Harsh Sentencing. The DOJ withdrew guidance issued in the previous Administration that required prosecutors to always charge the harshest sentences, replacing it with guidance that restored discretion to make decisions about charging, plea agreements, and advocacy at sentencing based on an individualized assessment of relevant facts.
- Supporting Legislation to End Racial Disparities in Cocaine Sentencing. The President endorsed the EQUAL Act, which would eliminate the racially discriminatory crack-powder cocaine sentencing disparity and make the change fully retroactive.
- Support for Community Violence Intervention (CVI) Programs. The President ordered DOJ not to renew contracts for privately-operated criminal detention facilities, covering the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and U.S. Marshals Service (USMS). When completed, this will result in up to 14,000 people in BOP custody and 10,000 people in USMS custody being moved out of private prisons. To date, the administration has closed a total of 7 contracts, resulting in more than 4,000 people moved out of private prisons.
- Support for Community Violence Intervention (CVI) Programs. Black boys and young men ages 15-34 make up 2% of the population but are 37% of homicide victims, and homicide is the leading cause of death for Black men under the age of 45. Until this Administration, however, CVI programs like violence interrupters and hospital-based programs, which are demonstrated to reduce violence by up to 60%, have been badly underfunded. Under President Biden, the Treasury Department and Education Department issued guidance stating that CVI programs are eligible uses of American Rescue Plan funds—both the $350 billion in aid to state, Tribal, and local governments and the $122 billion to school districts. The Administration pivoted 26 existing grant programs across five agencies to support CVI. And President Biden continues to seek $5 billion in dedicated funding for CVI programs. These historic funds would help curtail the epidemic of gun violence that hits Black communities hardest.
- Support for Reentry of Returning Citizens. In February 2021, President Biden expanded access to Paycheck Protection Program loans by removing restrictions for entrepreneurs with certain past criminal records, bringing long overdue help to small businesses previously unable to access these funds. In June 2021, the Department of Labor awarded $85.5 million to help formerly incarcerated adults and young people in 28 communities transition out of the criminal justice system and connect with quality jobs. The President issued an Executive Order directing the Office of Personnel Management to evaluate the existence of any barriers that formerly incarcerated individuals face in accessing federal employment, and to evaluate how to expand federal employment opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals. OPM provided its findings and a summary of actions to expand employment for this population to the President in October. Further, in September 2021 the Labor and Treasury Departments released new resources to help employers leverage tax credits and other federal programs to incentivize the hiring of formerly incarcerated persons. HUD clarified that returning citizens are eligible for the 70,000 emergency housing vouchers created by the ARP. Further, President Biden’s plans include an additional $1.6 billion of workforce development and job training funding to invest in re-entry employment efforts.
- Addressing Domestic Violent Extremism. President Biden directed the U.S. government to assess the threat of domestic violent extremism in the United States. In January, Secretary of the Department of Defense (DOD) Lloyd J. Austin III ordered a DOD-wide stand down to discuss the problem of extremism in the ranks, and in April he established a countering extremism working group, directing DOD officials to review and update the definition of extremism contained in DOD Instruction 1325.06, and calling on the services to update transition instructions to prevent those leaving the military from being recruited by extremist groups. In March 2021, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released the unclassified executive summary of the comprehensive assessment acknowledging that enduring domestic violent extremism motivations stem from biases against minority populations. In April 2021, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas ordered an internal review to root out white supremacy and extremism within DHS.
Using Executive Authority to Protect Voting Rights, Democracy, and Access to Justice. These policies and programs include:
- Signing Executive Order Promoting Access to Voter Registration and Voting. On the 2021 anniversary of Bloody Sunday, President Biden signed an Executive Order to leverage the resources of the federal government to provide information about the election process and increased access to voter registration opportunities. Agencies across the federal government have announced steps they are taking to respond to the President’s call for an all-of-government action to enhance the ability of all eligible Americans to participate in our democracy, including the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ recent commitment to make it easier for consumers using HealthCare.gov to connect to voter registration services.
- Ensuring Compliance with Voting Rights Laws. The Department of Justice has taken a variety of steps to help protect the right to vote, including doubling the number of voting rights attorneys, taking steps to ensure compliance with voting rights statutes, launching a task force to combat the increase of threats against election officials and election workers, and issuing guidance on (1) the civil and criminal statutes that apply to post-election audits, (2) methods of voting, including early voting and voting by mail, and (3) the vote-dilution protections that apply to all jurisdictions under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act as they engage in redistricting.
- To expand the promise of equal justice under law, the President issued a Presidential Memorandum in May 2021 that asked the Attorney General to consider expanding the Department of Justice’s access to justice work. In October 2021, the Attorney General announced the reestablishment of the Office for Access to Justice as a standalone component within the Justice Department dedicated to improving the federal government’s understanding of and capacity to address the most urgent legal needs of communities across America. The President’s May 2021 Memorandum also reinvigorated the White House Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable to prioritize and expand access to legal services and federal programs, including in the areas of criminal indigent defense, civil legal aid, and pro bono services. In September 2021, the Roundtable released its Access to Justice in the Age of COVID-19 report highlighting the urgent need to prioritize and expand access to legal services and federal programs as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.
Appointing and Confirming Black Judges. President Biden is committed to ensuring that the judiciary is filled with highly qualified individuals who bring both personal and professional diversity to the bench. Since January 2021, President Biden has nominated a total of 84 individuals for federal judgeships, 25 of whom are African American, and 13 individuals for local judgeships in Washington, D.C., 5 of whom are African American. In February, he announced his intention to nominate Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to serve as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Of the 48 individuals who have been confirmed to positions on federal courts, 14 are African American.
Restoring Fairness and Humanity to Our Immigration System. President Biden is committed to reforming our immigration system, promoting racial equity in our immigration policies, and providing legal protections for noncitizens, including Black noncitizens who call this country home.
- Extending and Redesignating Haiti and Somalia for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). The Administration extended legal protections to Haitian and Somalian nationals who have lived in our country for years. TPS is a form of immigration relief available to noncitizens in the United States who cannot return home due to dangerous conditions in their home countries; it enables those individuals to live with their families and work in our communities without fear of removal.
- Restarting the Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program (HFRP). The Obama-Biden Administration created the HRFP in 2014, allowing U.S. citizens and green card holders to apply for parole on behalf of family members in Haiti who have approved immigrant visa petitions. The prior Administration announced the termination of this program in 2019. The Biden-Harris Administration restored HFRP and remains committed to helping Haitian-American families reunify in our country.
- Supporting Immigration Reform Legislation. President Biden remains committed to passing legislation to finally reform our broken immigration system. These reforms would promote racial equity by providing a pathway to citizenship to millions of undocumented individuals, including Black noncitizens.
The President is not done. The Biden-Harris Administration continues to advance equity and racial justice, including for Black Americans, as we build back better. These policies and programs include:
- President Biden’s Proposed Plan Will Promote Investment and Economic Opportunity in Black Communities. President Biden’s plans will reverse decades of disinvestment and wealth extraction in Black communities, other communities of color and rural communities, and drive good jobs and opportunity to every corner of the country, making long needed, once-in-a-generation investments in underserved communities: The President intends to make universal preschool a reality, cut child care costs and increase access to high-quality child care, reduce housing costs and increase the supply of affordable housing, lower health care costs, improve maternal health, expand coverage to millions of low-income Americans by closing the Medicaid coverage gap, and extend the ARP’s historic child tax credit expansion. The Presidents’ plans also include a $3 billion investment focused on improving maternal health in this country.
- Sustained Investment in HBCUs. President Biden’s plans seek sustained investments in HBCUs and their students. These include $10 billion to HBCUs, Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and minority-serving institutions (MSIs). Of that total, $2 billion is dedicated specifically for HBCUs—a five-fold increase from the amounts HBCUs typically receive annually through existing funding streams to address a wide range of needs, including student financial aid, infrastructure upgrades, and campus services. HBCUs can compete for another $4 billion of these funds to support research and development programs.
- Additionally, President Biden’s FY22 budget request for the Department of Education includes a total of $807 million in discretionary funding to HBCUs, an increase of $72 million over last year’s funding level, which will substantially increase key HBCU funding streams to support research, infrastructure, and student support services, amongst other programming.
- Unwavering Support for the Fundamental and Sacred Right to Vote. President Biden has firmly and repeatedly called for Congress to enact the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act, which would together set national standards that make it easier to vote, and deliver new tools to prevent voting discrimination. The President urged the Senate to change the rules, including getting rid of the filibuster, to pass these critical pieces of legislation. And the President will continue to use every tool at his disposal to protect the right to vote in free, fair, and secure elections.
Transforming Public Education with Historic Funding Increases. Black students are less likely to have access to high-quality preschool, resulting in disparate outcomes before students even enter kindergarten. They are more likely to attend rundown and unsafe schools. They are taught by less experienced teachers. And they have lower college completion rates and higher student loan debt burdens than their white peers. The President has outlined a far-reaching agenda that will transform public education, advancing equity for Black students and prepare all students to succeed.
- The President’s plans would provide universal, high-quality preschool for all three- and four-year-olds; invest in school infrastructure so all students learn in safe and healthy school buildings with the technology and labs they need to prepare for the jobs of the future; and strengthen and diversity the teacher pipeline.
- The President’s FY22 budget proposal includes a $20 billion increase in Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Title I funding, which would more than double funds available under the flagship program for students in high-poverty schools, while providing meaningful incentives for states to address inequitable school funding systems and close gaps in access to rigorous coursework, like advanced math and science courses. Over 80% of Black students attend a Title I-eligible school, and there is a $23 billion annual funding gap between majority white and majority non-white school districts.
- Through the President’s plans and his FY22 budget, the President has requested a $950 increase to the maximum Pell Grant for students enrolled in public and private non-profit colleges, benefitting 75% of HBCU students who receive them.
Addressing Police Misconduct. The President strongly supported the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. He is disappointed that legislation has not yet reached his desk, and continues to urge Congress to act, while also examining ways to advance meaningful police reform through executive action.