FACT SHEET: The Biden-⁠Harris Administration Advances Equity and Opportunity for Black Americans and Communities Across the Country

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FACT SHEET: The Biden-⁠Harris Administration Advances Equity and Opportunity for Black Americans and Communities Across the Country

From the first day in office and every day since, the Biden-Harris Administration has taken an historic approach to advancing racial equity, including

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.

As the nation marks Juneteenth, 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 led the most equitable economic recovery on record, and 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.  A time-limited expansion of the 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.
     
  • 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 launches a new Reconnecting Communities program, which will invest $1 billion in these communities to build new and more inclusive infrastructure.
    • 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.
    • 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. 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 prioritize communities with the highest lead levels and those with environmental justice concerns.
    • The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will deliver 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.
       
  • Leveraging Federal Procurement to Help Black Entrepreneurs and Black Families Build Wealth. President Biden has directed agencies to leverage the federal government’s purchasing power to build wealth in underserved communities, including Black communities. 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 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.
     
  • 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.
     
  • 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. The Action Plan details a set of more than 20 commitments and actions 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 later this year for public comment.
     
  • 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.
     
  • 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 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.
     
  • 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 190,000 child care providers, 1 in 5 of whom are Black, serving more than 8 million children and their families. 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.
     
  • 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.

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 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.
     
  • Ensuring school districts have the COVID-19 testing resources they need to test students and staff and keep transmission low. The Administration provided unprecedented funding to make sure schools can launch and maintain COVID-19 testing programs that meet the needs of their communities. CDC’s Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity grant has provided funding for states to establish screening testing programs for students and school staff; and the American Rescue Plan included additional funding for Operation Expanded Testing that provides free lab-based (PCR) testing to schools, child care and other congregate settings. In addition, the Administration sent schools across the country 5 million free point-of-care rapid tests per month starting in January, and made available 5 million additional free PCR lab tests for schools per month. The CDC and Department of Education have been closely coordinating to assist schools in launching school testing programs, with tailored assistance to school leaders in designing and implementing programs like test-to-stay that best align with individual schools’ needs and that can be supported through American Rescue Plan investments.
     
  • 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.
     
  • Reducing College Costs. To help low- and middle-income students overcome financial barriers to an education beyond high school, the Biden-Harris Administration secured a $400 increase to the maximum Pell Grant award, making the upcoming maximum grant amount a total of $6,895. This means that students, particularly students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities, and Minority-Serving Institutions, will be seeing more money in their pockets to pay for college starting this July 1.
     
  • 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.
       
  • Investing in Equitable Workforce Training. The President has made a commitment 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. To enable this, the Department of Labor has provided $45 million in funding to help people in marginalized and underrepresented populations overcome barriers to access career and technical education programs that can help connect them with good-paying jobs; and made available $113 million in grant funding, including up to $50 million to support equity partnerships and pre-apprenticeship activities to increase enrollment in Registered Apprenticeship Programs;

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 in 2021 with those subsidies. In addition, over 5 million uninsured Americans gained coverage in 2021. Of those newly signing up for HealthCare.gov coverage during the 2022 Open Enrollment (OE) period and who attested to race or ethnicity, 11% were Black Americans, up over 20% from the 2020 Open Enrollment period.
     
  • 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.
    • 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.
       
  • 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.
     
  • 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 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.
     
  • 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. The Administration built channels to increase access in our hardest-hit, highest-risk communities with funding from the ARP:
    • 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 Black and brown people.
    • Last week, the Administration took two critical actions to strengthen and sustain the impact of the public health workforce in Black communities and other hard-hit and high-risk communities, thanks to investments from the ARP.
      • Over $220 million in American Rescue Plan funds have been made available for a new Health Resources and Services Administration program focused on education and on-the-job training to build the pipeline of public health workers in our most underserved communities. This effort will support apprenticeship programs for 13,000 community health workers and paraprofessionals at over 500 health care and public health sites nationally where hard-hit and high-risk populations access care and receive services. Applications from these sites closed this week.
      • On June 16, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a new flexible funding opportunity that will provide nearly $4 billion over 5 years to improve critical public health infrastructure in state, local, and territorial health departments across the country, including $3 billion in ARP funding to recruit, hire, and train public health workers to face head on the challenges of the pandemic and build a public health workforce that comes from the hard-hit and high-risk communities they will serve.
    • 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.
       
  • Expanding crisis response and access to treatment.  This summer, HHS will launch the new 988 mental health crisis service hotline, which will create a national network of local crisis centers fortified by national back up centers to answer calls and texts. Through the American Rescue Plan, the Administration has provided $180 million to support local capacity to answer crisis calls, and establish more community-based mobile crisis response and crisis stabilizing facilities to minimize unnecessary arrests or emergency department visits. The President’s FY23 budget will build on this investment with an additional nearly $700 million to staff up and shore up local crisis centers while also building out the broader crisis care continuum: someone to call, someone to respond, and somewhere for every American in crisis to go. 

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 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 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 48 individuals who have been confirmed to positions on federal courts, 14 are African American.

Taking Strong Action to Strengthen Public Trust and Promote Public Safety in 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 strengthen public trust and promote public safety in the criminal justice system and to address racial disparities. These policies and programs include:

  • 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.
     
  • Initiating a whole-of-government effort to promote reform of the criminal justice system.  The EO also creates a new interagency Alternatives and Reentry Committee to produce and execute on a strategic plan that advances front-end diversion, alternatives to incarceration, rehabilitation, and reentry.
     
  • 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.
       
  • 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 five such investigations in Minneapolis, Louisville, Phoenix, Mount Vernon, New York, and the Louisiana 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. The President endorsed the EQUAL Act, which would eliminate the racially discriminatory crack-powder cocaine sentencing disparity and make the change fully retroactive.
     
  • 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, the administration has closed a total of 10 contracts, resulting in more than 8,000 people moved out of privately owned or operated facilities.
     
  • 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 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.

Using Executive Authority to Protect Voting Rights, Democracy, and Access to Justice. 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.
     
  • 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, (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.
     
  • 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. 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.

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.

  • Extending, Re-designating, or Designating, Cameroon, 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.
     
  • 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.
     
  • Repealing the Discriminatory Muslim Ban. On his first day in office, President Biden signed an Executive Action that repealed the previous administration’s discriminatory Muslim Ban, a policy that was rooted in religious animus and xenophobia.
     
  • 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. 

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