From the first day in office and every day since, the Biden-Harris Administration has led the charge to ensure that all African American families and communities can live with dignity, safety, respect, and achieve greater economic opportunity. The 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.
The Biden-Harris Administration is working to protect and advance civil rights, voter protections, racial equity, and economic opportunity for Black communities. That has meant: record drops in unemployment for Black workers; historically low credit card delinquency rates – which hit Black and Latino borrowers hardest; historically low foreclosures and evictions; and historically low Black child poverty rates. The Administration has delivered real and lasting change and continues to work each day to deliver equitable outcomes and opportunity for African Americans.
Economic Opportunity for Black Families and Communities. By signing into law the historic American Rescue Plan (ARP), Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Inflation Reduction Act, and implementing robust regulatory reform, President Biden has led the most equitable economic recovery on record, creating nearly 10 million jobs since coming to office, and helping create new economic opportunities for African Americans, including Black-owned businesses, and made long overdue investments in Black communities.
The Biden-Harris Administration’s vital policies and programs include:
- Lowering Energy Costs and Creating Economic Opportunities Through the Inflation Reduction Act. By signing the Inflation Reduction Act, President Biden is delivering on his promise to build an economy that works for working families, including Black families. President Biden and Congressional Democrats successfully fought to pass this historic legislation to help all Americans, including African Americans, who have been at the frontline of climate change, by lowering costs, advancing environmental justice while building a cleaner future, and growing the economy from the bottom up and the middle out by creating good-paying, union jobs across the country. The IRA will also lower the deficit and ask the ultra-wealthy and corporations to pay their fair share. No one earning under $400,000 per year will pay a penny more in taxes. It’s also the most aggressive action we have taken to confront the climate crisis.
- Making Home Efficiency Upgrades More Affordable. Households can save up to 30% with tax credits for efficient heating and cooling equipment that will save them hundreds of dollars on utility bills. Households can also save up to 30% with tax credits for home construction projects on windows, doors, insulation, or other weatherization measures that prevent energy from escaping homes. When families need to replace or upgrade stoves, ovens, or other home appliances, they can receive direct rebates when buying more energy efficient and electric appliances that can lower future utility bills by at least $350 per year. Families in affordable housing units will benefit from resources to support projects that boost efficiency, improve indoor air quality, make clean energy or electrification upgrades, or strengthen their climate resilience.
- Creating Economic Opportunities and Good Paying Jobs. The IRA spurs solar project development in environmental justice communities by providing a 20% bonus credit for solar projects on federally-subsidized affordable housing projects and a 10% bonus credit for solar projects in low-income communities. It also creates a new Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator that will seed state and local clean energy financing institutions, support the deployment of distributed zero-emission technologies like heat-pumps and community solar and EV charging, while prioritizing over 50% of its investments in disadvantaged communities. The IRA expands clean energy tax credits for wind, solar, nuclear, clean hydrogen, clean fuels, and carbon capture including a bonus credit for businesses that pay workers a prevailing wage and hire using registered apprenticeship programs – so that the clean energy we use creates good-paying jobs.
- Providing Relief to Farmers. The Inflation Reduction Act includes $5.3 billion that will provide relief to tens of thousands of farmers, including Black, brown, and Native American farmers. Of that money, $3.1 billion will help distressed borrowers pay off their farm debts without ultimately taking the land or making the farmer ineligible for future assistance. An additional $2.2 billion will go to farmers who have suffered discrimination by USDA farm programs.
- Making Critical Investments in Black Families & Communities in the American Rescue Plan. When President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan (ARP) into law, it provided a lifeline to millions of families who were struggling from the economic fallout of the pandemic.
- Historic Expansion of the Child Tax Credit (CTC) – cutting child poverty to record lows for Black children: ARP provided cash relief directly to low- and middle-income Americans, and cut Black child poverty by more than half in 2021. The expanded Child Tax Credit provided a critical lifeline to millions of Black families during the nation’s recovery from the economic crisis created by the pandemic, and the President continues to urge Congress to extend this life-changing tax relief. 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.
- Supporting Child Care Providers and Reducing Child Care Costs for Black Families. 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 American Rescue Plan provided a $39 billion lifeline to help child care providers stay open and compensate early childhood educators, as they provide safe and healthy environments for children and help parents work. States have already delivered American Rescue Plan stabilization grants to more than 200,000 child care providers, 1 in 5 of whom are Black, serving as many as 9.5 million children and their families. In most states, providers in at least 98% of counties received aid. One survey finds that 92% of providers receiving funds relied on them to help stay open and nearly half used them to repay debt incurred during the pandemic. Many states also used funds to help boost compensation of the child care workforce, which is disproportionately led by Black women. The ARP also helped lower child care costs for Black families, including by expanding the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit—allowing a median income family with two kids under age 13 to receive up to $8,000 towards their child care expenses, compared with a maximum of $1,200 previously.
- The American Rescue Plan tripled the EITC for 17 million workers without dependent children: The American Rescue Plan nearly tripled the Earned Income Tax Credit for workers without dependent children for 2021 from $540 to $1,500 and extended the credit to younger and older workers. This was the first increase in the credit in real terms since 1993, and especially impacted front-line workers, including cashiers and retail salespeople, cooks and food prep workers, and childcare workers.
- Helping Black Americans Stay in their Homes. President Biden’s American Rescue Plan has helped 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 were the largest group that received this help, representing more than 40% of aid recipients. The Administration implemented a series of measures that protected homeowners from foreclosure, including a foreclosure moratorium, increased options for mortgage payment forbearance, enhanced loan modifications to resolve delinquencies. In addition, the ARP is helping struggling homeowners catch up with their mortgage payments and utility costs through the Homeowner Assistance Fund. As a result of these protections, foreclosure filings in 2021 were at a historic low with 29 percent fewer filings than in 2020 and 95 percent below the 2010 peak experienced in the previous economic downturn during the Great Recession. In addition, the ARP provided $10 billion in funding for families and individuals who are recovering from or at risk of homelessness.
- Extending a Lifeline to Struggling Small Businesses. Through the American Rescue Plan and the equitable implementation of emergency relief programs, President Biden and Vice President Harris have fostered the strongest recovery for Main Street on record. In 2021, Americans applied to start 5.4 million new businesses—more than 20 percent higher than any previous year on record, and with new business creation especially strong among entrepreneurs of color. 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.
- Investing in Equitable Workforce Training. The President is committed to creating pathways to the middle class, especially for people from underserved communities, by expanding skills-based hiring and increasing access to Registered Apprenticeship and workforce training. States, localities, community colleges, and community-based organizations have leveraged $40 billion in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds to deliver training, expand career paths, encourage more Registered Apprenticeships, provide retention and hiring bonuses in critical industries, and power efforts to help underserved Americans and those who face barriers to employment secure good jobs. In 2022, the Department of Labor has awarded $121 million in grants to expand, diversify, and improve access to Registered Apprenticeships for underserved communities. The agency is also awarding $95 million help people in marginalized and underrepresented populations overcome barriers to career and technical education programs they need to connect with quality jobs.
- Ensuring Black Homeowners Get Full Value for their Homes. In March 2022, the Biden-Harris Administration’s Interagency Task Force on Property Appraisal and Valuation Equity (PAVE) released the PAVE Action Plan, which represents the most wide-ranging set of reforms ever put forward to advance equity in the home appraisal process. Federal agencies are taking action on more than 20 commitments across all stages of the valuation process, including: making the appraisal industry more accountable; empowering consumers with critical information and assistance if they receive a valuation that is lower than expected; preventing algorithmic bias in home valuation; cultivating an appraiser profession that is well-trained and looks like the communities it serves; and leveraging federal data and expertise to inform policy, practice, and research on appraisal bias.
- 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. Last fall, HUD solicited input from stakeholders to inform a Notice of Public Rulemaking, which will be published this year for public comment.
- Leveraging Federal Procurement to Narrow the Racial Wealth Gap for Black Entrepreneurs and Families. Federal procurement is one of our most powerful tools to advance equity and build wealth in underserved communities, but only around 10 percent of federal agencies’ total eligible contracting dollars typically go to small disadvantaged businesses, a category under federal law for which Black-owned businesses are presumed to qualify. Recognizing the importance of using the government’s purchasing power to advance opportunity and equity, the Biden-Harris Administration has launched an all-of-government effort to expand contracting opportunities for underserved small businesses, including Black-owned businesses. President Biden 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 announced further 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.
- Advancing Equitable Employment Outcomes and Boosting Wages for Black Federal Workers. On June 25, 2021, 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 impact more than 370,000 workers in 2022 alone, a population that is disproportionately Black, and takes a step towards addressing longstanding wage disparities.
- 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 communities and other underserved communities. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will: replace lead pipes; increase access to training and good-quality jobs; expand affordable high-speed internet, reliable public transit, and clean drinking water; reconnect Black neighborhoods divided by legacy highway infrastructure; and provide other resources to finally give Black communities a fair shot at the American Dream.
During the 20th century, federally funded infrastructure projects too often segregated and harmed low-income communities, especially predominantly Black neighborhoods. Construction of the federal highway system in particular cut off once thriving Black communities from resources and opportunity.
- The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law launched a new Reconnecting Communities program, which will invest $1 billion to help reconnect communities that were previously cut off from economic opportunities by transportation infrastructure. In addition, the Inflation Reduction Act includes $3 billion for the Neighborhood Access and Equity Grant Program to help advance transportation projects in disadvantaged or underserved communities. Over the past year, DOT has awarded grants to multiple projects to reconnect communities including an interstate capping project in Atlanta, a greenway project in St. Louis, and the I-375 Detroit Community Reconnection Project.
- The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law permanently authorized the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) for the first time since its inception and elevated the agency head to the position of Under Secretary, granting the agency expanded power to support Black- and other minority-owned businesses. Don Cravins – former Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the National Urban League – was unanimously confirmed by the Senate this August to serve in this post.
- EPA announced that it will allocate $2.9 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding for lead service line replacement in 2022— the first allocation of $15 billion over five years dedicated to lead service line replacement. States can also leverage expanded eligibilities under the EPA’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) to spend up to $11.7 billion in additional DWSRF funds on lead service line replacement, plus funds from the American Rescue Plan to work towards the Administration’s goal of replacing 100% of the lead pipes and service lines. EPA will encourage states to use these funds to advance proactive lead line replacement programs with a particular focus on disadvantaged communities, including Black communities. Moving forward, EPA will continue to encourage states to prioritize communities with the highest lead levels and those with environmental justice concerns.
- The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is the largest ever 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.
- 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. In February 2022, USDA launched an Equity Commission Advisory Committee using ARP funds. The Equity Commission Advisory Committee advises 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.
- Launched an initiative to cut fees for Americans. In September 2022, the President announced an initiative to reduce or eliminate hidden fees, charges, and add-ons for everything from banking services to cable and internet bills to airline and concert tickets. While the extra costs of junk fees affect everyone, they disproportionately impact lower income households and people of color. Agencies have already taken a number of steps: CFPB has issued guidance to restrict or ban a number of common banking practices, including credit card late fees, surprise overdraft fees, and depositor (or “bounced check”) fees, and FTC has initiated the rulemaking process that would broadly reduce junk fee practices across the economy, including for event ticketing, hotels, funeral homes, and any other industry that uses mandatory fees.
- 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.
Lowering Health Care Costs and Improving Health Outcomes for Black Communities. President Biden is committed to keeping health care costs down for individuals and families and improving access to health care to address disparities in Black communities. These policies and programs include:
- Lowering Health Care Costs and Expanding Coverage. 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 from provisions included in the Inflation Reduction Act. After substantially increasing Affordable Care Act Marketplace outreach and education, and with the American Rescue Plan’s enhanced and expanded premium tax credits, Black consumers saw a 49 percent increase in enrollment from 2020 to 2022.
- Almost 3.9 million Black people were uninsured in 2019 before President Biden took office and over 570,000 Black people fell into the Medicaid “coverage gap” and were locked out of coverage because their state refused to expand Medicaid. Since President Biden took office, the uninsured rate has reached a new historic low of 8% and 5.2 million of Americans have gained health insurance coverage.
- The Inflation Reduction Act locks in lower monthly premiums – more than three quarters of uninsured Black Americans had access to a plan with a monthly premium of $50 or less and about two thirds could find a plan for $0-premium plan in 2021.
- By continuing the improvements made through ARP, the Inflation Reduction Act will help keep free or low-cost health insurance available. Over half a million more Black Americans will have health insurance coverage next year, compared to without the IRA.
- Almost 3.9 million Black people were uninsured in 2019 before President Biden took office and over 570,000 Black people fell into the Medicaid “coverage gap” and were locked out of coverage because their state refused to expand Medicaid. Since President Biden took office, the uninsured rate has reached a new historic low of 8% and 5.2 million of Americans have gained health insurance coverage.
- Lowering Prescription Drug Costs. Among adults 65 and older, Black Medicare beneficiaries were roughly 1.5 times as likely as White beneficiaries to have trouble affording medications, and about 2 times as likely to not fill needed prescriptions due to cost. This law caps the amount that seniors will have to pay for prescription drugs they buy at the pharmacy at $2,000 a year, caps the amount that seniors will have to pay for insulin at $35 for a month’s supply, and will further lower prescription drug costs for seniors by allowing Medicare to negotiate the price of high-cost drugs and requiring drug manufacturers to pay Medicare a rebate when they raise prices faster than inflation.
- Protecting Black Maternal Health. The Administration is also committed to protecting Black moms and improving maternal health outcomes, including addressing the unacceptably high rates of maternal mortality and morbidity that disproportionately impact Black mothers and families.
In June 2022, the Biden-Harris Administration’s Blueprint for Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis was released to ensure a whole-of-government approach to combatting maternal mortality and morbidity through several key initiatives:
- The Administration has approved over a dozen state requests to extend Medicaid postpartum coverage for 12 months, including requests to take up the new state option under the ARP. The ARP gives states an easier pathway to extend coverage for pregnant women from 60 days to 12 months postpartum. To date, over 250,000 people have gained coverage through these Medicaid postpartum extensions. The Administration continues 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. The President issued a proclamation in April 2022 as well.
- 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.
- The Blueprint for Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis also includes:
- Improved Maternal Health Data: Through enhanced federal partnerships with state and local maternal health data collection entities, communities, hospitals, and researchers will have access to better data to they can analyze poor outcomes during pregnancy and make improvements to support healthy pregnancies.
- A More Diverse Maternal Care Workforce: Federal agencies will invest more in hiring, training, and deploying more physicians, certified nurse midwives, doulas, and community health workers to support women during pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum. The federal government will work to ensure these providers come from diverse communities and backgrounds.
- Better Access to Doulas and Midwives: The Administration will work with states to expand access to doulas and midwives, and encourage insurance companies to cover their services.
- Protects Public Health. Climate change disproportionately impacts low-income communities and communities of color. Through the Inflation Reduction Act, the law will create Environmental Justice Block Grants, and a dedicated program to tackle pollution in port communities – where air pollution is especially dense and deadly. It will also fund programs to reduce air pollution, including for fenceline monitoring and screening near industrial facilities, air quality sensors in disadvantaged communities, new and upgraded multipollutant monitoring sites, and monitoring and mitigation of methane and wood heater emissions. These grants will also help protect our children with investments to monitor and reduce pollution at public schools in disadvantaged communities.
- White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health. The Biden-Harris Administration hosted the first conference on hunger, nutrition, and health in more than 50 years and released a National Strategy to end hunger and reduce diet-related diseases and disparities by 2030. The National Strategy outlines actions the federal government will take and includes calls on other sectors to drive solutions to achieve the President’s goal. This includes: creating a pathway for free, healthy school meals for all; expanding coverage of nutrition and obesity counseling in Medicare and Medicaid; and ending the federal prohibition on SNAP benefits for formerly incarcerated individuals, which disproportionately impacts Black Americans. It also includes strategies to diversify the nutrition workforce, such as HHS partnering with HBCUs to recruit and train more Black nutrition professionals. The White House Conference galvanized stakeholders around the National Strategy and spurred over $8 billion in commitments from the public- and private-sectors.
- Proposing Rules to Significantly Reduce Tobacco-Related Disease and Death: Smoking product use is the leading cause of preventable death in the US. In April 2022, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced two proposed rules to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. Studies estimate that banning menthol cigarettes could prevent as many as 654,000 deaths in the US – up to 238,000 among African Americans – over the next 40 years. Banning flavored cigars – which are used by over half a million youth in the US – will help reduce nicotine dependence and improve health outcomes long-term.
- Increasing Cultural Competence for Black Americans with Disabilities. The Administration provided funding to create and maintain a national resource center on disability and equity to build capacity across the nation to be more inclusive and culturally competent towards individuals with disabilities. The center will focus on resources to increase equitable access by: supporting forums for cross-cultural and cross-disability exchanges that will advance a culturally competent disability framework; translating research into action and disseminating information using multiple methods; developing tools, such as an organizational self-assessment tool, and supporting communities of practices for transforming systems and organizations; and building the next generation and future leaders of this work through engagement with youth with disabilities.
- Building the Pipeline of Black Health Care Providers. The Administration 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.
- Implementing the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. President Biden released a new National HIV/AIDS Strategy to provide the framework and direction for the Administration’s policies, research, programs, and planning through 2025 and lead us toward ending the HIV epidemic in the United States by 2030. The new National HIV/AIDS Strategy incorporates the latest data on HIV incidence, prevalence and trends; expands the focus on addressing the social determinants of health that influence an individual’s HIV risk or outcomes; encourages reform of state HIV criminalization laws; adds a new focus on opportunities to engage the private sector in novel and important ways in the nation’s work to end the HIV epidemic.
- Ensuring an Equitable Pandemic Response. 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 commitment to center equity in our vaccination effort, multiple studies show that the gap in COVID-19 vaccination rates in Black adults compared to White and Latino adults has closed. Data as of June 2022 show that 86% of Black adults, 85% of Latinos and 86% of White adults have received at least one shot, compared to 56%, 57%, and 65%, respectively, in May 2021.
- 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. In 2022, the Administration is working to ensure our progress on COVID-19 equity is reflected and embedded in U.S. health policy more broadly.
The Administration built channels to increase access in our hardest-hit, highest-risk communities with funding from the American Rescue Plan. President Biden centered equity in his historic vaccine effort, going into communities to close the racial vaccination gap to make sure all Black Americans — no matter where they live, no matter what their circumstance has access to vaccines:
- Offering new, updated COVID-19 vaccines for free at tens of thousands of trusted locations, with convenient appointment and walk-in hours: The Administration has secured over 170 million doses of the updated COVID-19 vaccines, which were made available to the American people for free at tens of thousands of convenient locations nationwide, including pharmacies, doctor’s offices, health centers, and state and local health departments. Americans can visit Vaccines.gov to find locations with the new, updated vaccines near them—with more locations and appointments becoming available in the coming days and weeks.
- Engaging community organizations to reach people with trusted information on the new, updated COVID-19 vaccines. Building on the successful efforts that have gotten over 600 million shots in arms since January 2021, the Department of Health and Human Services is engaging national, regional, and local community-based organizations, and houses of worship, including those with strong reach among racial and ethnic minority communities, to host community health expos and vaccine drives in cities. 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. This continued collaboration will help meet people where they are, and foster conversations with trusted members of their communities.
- Expanding crisis response and access to treatment. Our country faces an unprecedented mental health crisis among people of all ages. Two out of five adults report symptoms of anxiety or depression. And, Black and brown communities are disproportionately undertreated – even as their burden of mental illness has continued to rise. Ensuring timely access to crisis intervention saves lives.
- In July, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) successfully transitioned to the new easy to remember number 9-8-8, making it easier for individuals in crisis to access life-saving crisis counseling. The Biden Administration has invested $432 million – an 18-fold increase in federal support – to help states with the transition and launch of the program, providing critical resources to help ensure access to trained crisis counselors via phone, chat, and text.
Promoting Mental Health for Black Youth. Studies have documented that over the past decade rates of mental illness and substance use disorder have increased among Black youth 12-17 hears of age. Studies have also shown that Black children under 13 years are twice as likely to die by suicide than White peers. In March 2022, and in support of the President’s strategy for tackling the mental health crisis, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health announced $3 million in funding for up to 8 awards to evaluate the effectiveness of general health and wellness policies for improving Black youth mental health. These awards complement the ongoing work within the SAMHSA funded African American Behavioral Health Center of Excellence, which provides resources and tools to promote greater equity and effectiveness in behavioral health services for African Americans.
Ensuring Equitable Educational Opportunity in K-12 Schools and an Education Beyond High School. President Biden has delivered the support necessary to enable every school to return to 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 made college more affordable and ensured college students are supported through completion. He has also 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 American Rescue Plan 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 and support all schools in adopting the CDC’s recommendations on COVID-19 prevention and mitigation – including COVID-19 vaccination for staff, students, and school communities – have been critical in getting schools safely reopened and remaining open, including in Black communities hit hard by COVID-19. In addition to funding the implementation of COVID-19 protocols, these funds are being used to provide tutors, establish and expand summer and after-school programming, and provide a wide range of supports that address the needs of Black students. They are also being used to hire counselors and social workers.
With the help of American Rescue Plan funds, today all schools in America have reopened, and virtually all remain open every school day with the supports they received from the Biden-Harris Administration providing crucial protections for students, staff, and families. Additionally, the number of social workers in public schools have increased by 67% and the number of counselors by 18%, relative to the years before the pandemic. The availability of funds for this purpose particularly benefits Black students; schools where more than half of students are students of color have higher student to counselor and student to school psychologist ratios than those serving majority-white schools. 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.
- Providing Black Borrowers with Student Debt Relief. President Biden believes that a post-high school education should be a ticket to a middle-class life, but for too many Black Americans, the cost of borrowing for college is a lifelong burden that deprives them of that opportunity. President Biden released a three-part plan to provide more breathing room to America’s working families as they continue to recover from the strains associated with the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Provide targeted debt relief to address the financial harms of the pandemic, fulfilling the President’s campaign commitment. The Department of Education will provide up to $20,000 in debt cancellation to Pell Grant recipients with loans held by the Department of Education, and up to $10,000 in debt relief to non-Pell Grant recipients. Borrowers are eligible for this relief if their individual income is less than $125,000 ($250,000 for married couples). More than 70% of Black undergraduate borrowers are Pell Grant recipients and Black borrowers are twice as likely to have received Pell Grants compared to their white peers. No high-income individual or high-income household – in the top 5% of incomes – will benefit from this action. By targeting relief to borrowers with the highest economic need, the Administration’s actions are also likely to help narrow the racial wealth gap.
- Make the student loan system more manageable for current and future borrowers. These steps include:
- Cutting monthly payments in half for undergraduate loans. The Department of Education is proposing a new income-driven repayment plan that protects more low-income borrowers from making any payments and caps monthly payments for undergraduate loans at 5% of a borrower’s discretionary income—half of the rate that borrowers must pay now under most existing plans. This means that the average annual student loan payment will be lowered by more than $1,000 for both current and future borrowers.
- Fixing the broken Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program by issuing a rule that borrowers who have worked at a nonprofit, in the military, or in federal, state, Tribal, or local government, receive appropriate credit toward loan forgiveness. These improvements build on temporary changes the Department of Education made to PSLF, under which more than 235,000 public servants have already had more than $14 billion in loan forgiveness approved.
- Protect future students and taxpayers by reducing the cost of college and holding schools accountable when they hike up prices. The President championed the largest increase to Pell Grants in the last decade – a $400 increase in the maximum award for students in the 2022-2023 school year – and has a plan to double the maximum Pell Grant by 2029 to nearly $13,000. To further reduce the cost of college, the President will continue to fight to make community college free. Meanwhile, colleges have an obligation to keep prices reasonable and ensure borrowers get value for their investments, not debt they cannot afford. This Administration has already taken key steps to strengthen accountability, including in areas where the previous Administration weakened rules such as holding career colleges accountable for leaving their students with mountains of debt that they cannot repay.
- 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 state or local education 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.
- Increasing Funding for Schools in Low-Income Communities. The FY22 Omnibus included an additional $1 billion in funding for Title I – the largest increase in over a decade, which provides funding for schools serving students in low-income communities. The President’s FY23 Budget includes an additional $19 billion for Title I, addressing long-standing funding disparities between under-resourced schools—which disproportionately serve Black students —and their wealthier counterparts. The President’s proposal includes funding for states to voluntarily establish commissions to identify and create plans to address inequities in their education funding systems and gaps in access to educational opportunity.
- Providing 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.
- In April 2021, 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 of 2021, the Department of Education awarded more than $500 million in grant funding to HBCUs for academic capacity-building and fiscal stability.
- This year, the Department of Education has awarded Project School Emergency Response to Violence (Project SERV) grants to six HBCUs that experienced bomb threats.
- Re-establishing the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). In September 2021, President Biden signed a Executive Order re-establishing the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for 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. The Executive Order helps to strengthen the capacity of HBCUs to provide the highest-quality education for students, increase opportunities for these institutions to participate in and benefit from Federal programs, and ensure that HBCUs can continue to be engines of opportunity.
- Re-establishing the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Black Americans. In October 2021, President Biden signed a Executive Order reestablishing and expanding the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Black Americans. The Initiative works to strengthen the Nation by improving educational outcomes for Black Americans of all ages, and to help ensure that all African Americans receive an education that properly prepares them for college and productive careers. The Initiative manages a cross-agency effort to improve student achievement and advance educational equity and economic opportunity for African American and Black students, families, and communities.
Appointing and Confirming a Historic Number of Black Women to the Bench. 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 144 individuals for federal judgeships, 46 of whom are African American, and 15 individuals for local judgeships in Washington, D.C., 6 of whom are African American. In April 2022, Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed by the United States Senate as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, the first Black woman to ever serve on the Court. Of the 86 individuals who have been confirmed to positions on federal courts, 24 are African American.
Launching a Whole-Of-Government Initiative to Advance Equity and Justice for Underserved Communities, Including Black Communities. On his first day in office, President Biden signed the historic Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. The President’s Order emphasized the enormous human costs of systemic racism, persistent poverty, and other disparities, and directed the Federal Government to advance an ambitious whole-of-government equity agenda that matches the scale of the challenges we face as a country and the opportunities we have to build a more perfect union. Over 90 federal agencies across the federal government, including all Cabinet-level agencies as well as over 50 independent agencies, conducted equity assessments of 3-5 of their agency’s high-impact services for the American people, to uncover where systemic barriers to access may exist. Using those findings, agencies developed Equity Action Plans for addressing—and achieving—equity in their mission delivery for all Americans. Equity Action Plans were required to include accountability mechanisms and to identify success metrics and key milestones toward progress.
Advancing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in the Federal Government. In June 2021, President Biden signed an Executive Order on Advancing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in the Federal Workforce, that is helping develop a Federal workforce that looks like America where qualified people from every background and walk of life have an equal opportunity to serve our Nation.
Making the promise of equal justice a reality for all. President Biden believes that our criminal justice system must respect the dignity and rights of all persons and adhere to our fundamental obligation to ensure fair and impartial justice for all. This is imperative—not only to live up to our principles as a Nation, but also to build secure, safe, and healthy communities. President Biden believes that it is time that we acknowledge the legacy of systemic racism in our criminal justice system and work together to eliminate the racial disparities that endure to this day. Doing so serves all Americans.
- Reforming Federal Marijuana Laws to Promote Equity and Fairness in the Justice System. As President Biden repeatedly said during his campaign, no one should be in jail for using or possessing marijuana. Sending people to prison for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives and incarcerated people for conduct that many states no longer prohibit. In addition, although white and Black, and brown people use marijuana at similar rates, Black and brown people have been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted at disproportionate rates. The President recently took three steps to end this failed approach and to begin to right these wrongs:
- Announcing a pardon of all prior Federal offenses of simple possession of marijuana, including offenses under District of Columbia law. There are thousands of people who have prior Federal convictions for marijuana possession, who may be denied employment, housing, or educational opportunities as a result. This action will help relieve the collateral consequences arising from these convictions.
- Urging all Governors to pardon state offenses of simple marijuana possession, because just as no one should be in a Federal prison solely for possessing marijuana, no one should be in a local jail or state prison for that reason, either.
- Asking the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General to begin the administrative process to review expeditiously how marijuana is scheduled under Federal law. Marijuana is currently classified in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, the same classification as heroin and LSD and higher than fentanyl and methamphetamine, the drugs driving our overdose epidemic.
Finally, even as federal and state regulation of marijuana changes, important limitations on trafficking, marketing, and under-age sales should stay in place.
- Implementing Historic Executive Order on Policing and Criminal Justice Reform. On May 25, 2022 – the second anniversary of the murder of George Floyd – the President signed an executive order (EO) to advance effective, accountable policing and criminal justice practices to enhance public trust and public safety. The EO makes good on the President’s promise to do more to ensure that our Nation lives up to its founding promise of fair and impartial justice for all under the law, which he made after Senate Republicans rejected even modest reforms supported by many in law enforcement in the course of negotiating the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. The EO, a summary of which can be found here, promotes accountability, raises standards, increases transparency, and helps reform the criminal justice system. It requires all federal law enforcement agencies to raise use of force standards and ban chokeholds and carotid restraints; restrict the use of no-knock entries; adopt body worn camera policies; contribute records to a new national law enforcement accountability database; and adopting new standards to screen and vet officers for promotion of unlawful violence, white supremacy, and bias on the basis of protected characteristics. In addition, the EO directs the Attorney General and the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to issue guidance and identify federal resources for innovative models to respond to persons in crisis, including co-responder and alternative responder models, community-based crisis centers, and post-crisis care. It also orders guidance on the use of pharmacological agents such as ketamine outside the hospital setting.
- 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 six such investigations in Minneapolis, Louisville, Phoenix, Mount Vernon, New York City, and Louisiana in addition to its investigation into alleged discriminatory hiring by the Maryland State Police.
- 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. As President Biden first advocated in 2007, he continues to call on Congress to end once and for all the racially discriminatory crack-powder cocaine sentencing disparity and make the change fully retroactive. This step would provide immediate sentencing relief to the 10,000 individuals, more than 90 percent of whom are Black, currently serving time in federal prison pursuant to the crack/powder disparity. The Administration has urged the swift passage of the EQUAL Act.
- Implementing an Executive Order Limiting Use of Private Prisons. 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). To date, over 8,000 people have been moved out of privately owned or operated facilities.
- Initiating a whole-of-government effort to promote reform of the criminal justice system. The President’s Policing EO also created a new interagency Alternatives and Reentry Committee to produce and execute on a strategic plan that will safely reduce unnecessary criminal justice system interactions, improve rehabilitation, and support successful reentry while addressing existing disparities in the federal, state, local, Tribal, and territorial juvenile and criminal justice systems.
- Supporting Reentry of Returning Citizens. In April 2022, in honor of Second Chance Month, the President announced grants of clemency to 78 individuals, along with a series of over 20 actions from a dozen federal agencies to support returning citizens.
- To expand employment opportunities, the Administration is also leveraging historic investments in infrastructure to promote the hiring of formerly incarcerated persons, using over $5 billion in grant programs in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to prioritize grantees who hire formerly incarcerated persons and other historically marginalized groups.
- The Department of Justice and Department of Labor announced a first-of-its-kind collaboration to invest $145 million over FY22-23 to provide job skills training and intensive individualized employment and reentry plans for people incarcerated in select Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facilities to enhance their successful return to their communities.
- To protect equal housing opportunity, the Department of Housing and Urban Development is undertaking a comprehensive review to identify changes to its programs to ensure that they appropriately include individuals with arrest and conviction records.
- To expand educational opportunities, the Department of Education expanded its Second Chance Pell Program, which provides Pell Grants to incarcerated students, to 73 schools that will educate thousands of additional students. This raises the total number of participating schools to 200 and will help the Department prepare for the full expansion of Pell Grant eligibility to incarcerated students in July 2023.
- The Department of Labor also opened solicitations for $140 million in new grant funding for justice-involved youth and adults.
- The Department of Health and Human Services is starting the process to establish a Special Enrollment Period for Medicare for people who miss their enrollment periods while incarcerated, which will reduce coverage gaps and penalties for people returning home from prison.
- To support veterans, a new collaboration among the Social Security Administration, Bureau of Prisons, and the Department of Veterans Affairs will automate information-sharing among these agencies, accelerating the restoration of benefits and reducing red tape for returning veterans.
Advancing Public Safety for Black Communities. President Biden believes that the surge in gun violence that has affected communities across the country is unacceptable, and his Administration is acting decisively with a whole-of-government approach. Black Americans are disproportionately harmed by the direct and indirect consequences of gun violence, which causes lasting trauma for children, families, and communities. The President continues to call on Congress to take action to end this gun violence epidemic. But he knows we cannot afford to wait a single day while lives are being taken, which is why he has taken more action to reduce gun violence than any other President at this point in their Administration. These policies and programs include:
- Passing the First Commonsense Gun Safety Law in 30 years. In June 2022, President Biden signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act into law. It includes actions he has long called for and that will save lives, including funding crisis intervention, including red flag laws to keep guns out of the hands of people who are a danger to themselves and to others; finally closing what’s known as the “boyfriend loophole,” so if you assault your girlfriend or boyfriend you cannot buy or own a gun; requires young people aged 18-21 to undergo enhanced background checks; includes the first federal law that makes gun trafficking and straw purchases distinct federal crimes; clarifies who needs to register as a federally licensed gun dealer and run background checks before selling a gun; provides historic funding to address the youth mental health crisis in this country, especially the trauma experienced by survivors of gun violence; and invests in anti-violence programs to work directly with people who are most likely to commit gun crimes or become victims of gun crimes. President Biden continues to call on Congress to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, require background checks for all gun sales, and repeal gun manufacturer immunity.
- Additional Funding to Prevent and Fight Crime. The President’s FY 2023 budget and his Safer America Plan requests new funding to recruit, train, and hire police officers consistent with the standards in the President’s Executive Order to advance safe, effective, accountable, community policing in order to enhance public trust and public safety; and to invest in crime prevention and a fairer criminal justice, including by investing $20 billion in services that address the root causes of crime and by incentivizing the reform of laws that increase incarceration without redressing public safety.
- Keeping Especially Dangerous Weapons and Repeat Shooters Off Our Streets. The Justice Department issued a final rule to rein in the proliferation of ghost guns, which are un-serialized, privately made firearms that are increasingly being recovered at crime scenes. The Attorney General directed every U.S. Attorney’s Office nationwide to increase resources dedicated to district-specific violent crime strategies.
- Keeping Guns Out of the Wrong Hands. The Justice Department published model extreme risk protection order legislation to make it easier for states that want to adopt these red flag laws to do so. The Justice Department also issued a series of reforms: the first volume of its new, comprehensive report on firearms commerce and trafficking; new policy to underscore zero tolerance for willful violations of the law by federally licensed firearms dealers that put public safety at risk; and the launch of five new law enforcement strike forces focused on addressing significant firearms trafficking corridors that have diverted guns to New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, the Bay Area, and Washington, D.C.
- Tackling and Preventing Violence Crime through 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. President Biden secured $100 million in the first-ever dedicated CVI funding in Fiscal Year 2022 and continues to seek $5 billion in dedicated funding for CVI programs. These historic funds, along with new funding to support accountable, community-oriented policing, would help curtail the epidemic of gun violence that hits Black communities hardest.
- 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.
- United We Stand Summit. The Biden-Harris Administration hosted the United We Stand Summit to counter the corrosive effects of hate-fueled violence on our democracy and public safety. The Summit featured survivors and leaders from communities impacted by hate-fueled violence, including the mass shootings in Buffalo and at the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. The Administration announced a historic package of new actions the federal government, civic communities, faith communities, and business leaders will take to address hate-fueled violence and advance national unity. These included the establishment of the White House Initiative on Hate-Motivated Violence to strengthen interagency coordination, leverage federal research and resources, and enhance engagement in preventing and responding to hate-motivated violence, as well as the mobilization of over $1 billion in new investments to increase support for programs that build bridges among Americans of different backgrounds to foster unity. Bipartisan former White House officials also launched Dignity.US, a Citizens’ Initiative to Address Hate-Fueled Violence in America, to foster dialogue in communities across the country and identify solutions to address hate-fueled violence.
- Expanding Access to Justice. 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 and that reinvigorated the White House Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable to prioritize and expand access to legal services and federal programs in criminal and civil legal proceedings. 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. In May 2022, the Attorney General announced the office’s Director and its efforts to address the housing and eviction crisis, ensure equal access to justice for veterans and service members, and reduce and remove barriers to successful reentry for previously incarcerated individuals.
Using Executive Authority to Protect Voting Rights and Democracy. These policies and programs include:
- Implementing 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, and the Department of Veterans Affairs’ commitment to a pilot project seeking to have VA Medical Centers formally designated as voter registration agencies in six states.
- Pressing Legislation to Protect the Right to Vote. President Biden recognizes the anti-democratic impact of state attacks on voting and judicial decisions gutting the Voting Rights Act and has repeatedly stressed the need for Congress to protect the right to vote and fight discrimination in the electoral process. President Biden has repeatedly and forcefully pressed for passage of critical protective legislation, including the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act. And when a minority of Senators representing a minority of Americans blocked these historic voting rights bills from getting even a debate, President Biden called for a change in the Senate rules to defend our democracy.
- Ensuring Compliance with Voting Rights Laws. The Department of Justice has taken strong action 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, (3) the vote-dilution protections that apply to all jurisdictions under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act as they engage in redistricting, and (4) the state voting rules that apply after criminal convictions.
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 Black noncitizens who call this country home.
- Revoking the Discriminatory Muslim and African Ban. On his first day in office, President Biden signed a Proclamation revoking the previous administration’s discriminatory Muslim and African Ban, a policy that was rooted in racial and religious animus and xenophobia.
- Restarting the Haitian Family Reunification Parole (HFRP) Program. The Obama-Biden Administration created the HFRP Program in 2014, allowing U.S. citizens and permanent residents 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 the HFRP Program and remains committed to helping Haitian-American families reunify in our country.
- Extending, Re-designating, or Designating, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Haiti, Somalia, South Sudan, and Sudan for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). The Administration extended legal protections to nationals of these countries who have lived in the United States 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.
- Promoting Naturalization. President Biden is committed to making the naturalization process more accessible for eligible noncitizens, directing the Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the Secretary of State to improve naturalization processing, identify and remove barriers to naturalization, and reduce backlogs for naturalization applications. To advance these goals, the President also established an Interagency Working Group to Promote Naturalization. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2022, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) awarded nearly $60 million in grants to 66 organizations to provide citizenship preparation resources, support, and information to immigrants and immigrant-serving organizations.
- Supporting Immigrant Veterans. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has partnered with DHS to provide needed care and services to deported veterans, including timely and accurate information on immigration services. In addition, DHS established an online center to consolidate federal resources for immigrant veterans, which includes a portal for deported veterans requesting permission to return to the United States or accessing VA benefits to which they may be entitled.
- Supporting Immigration Reform Legislation. President Biden remains committed to passing broad-based legislation to finally reform our broken immigration system. These reforms would provide a pathway to citizenship to millions of undocumented individuals, including Black noncitizens.