On Tuesday, January 26th, President Biden announced a government wide effort to advance racial equity and address systemic racism. This announcement builds on his day one Executive Order (EO) entitled Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government and on his campaign focus on ensuring that all Americans have the same opportunities, despite the legacy of systemic racism and societal barriers to those opportunities. President Biden said that “our soul will be troubled as long as systemic racism is allowed to exist.” Before the signing ceremony, President Biden also called for restoring and extending the Voting Rights Act.
President Biden’s specific proposals included:
- Direct the Department of Housing and Urban Development “to take steps necessary to redress racially discriminatory federal housing policies”: Citing the historic legacy of systematic discrimination against, and exclusion of, people of color in housing and mortgage lending programs, this memorandum directs the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to examine recent regulatory actions that may have undermined fair housing policies and laws. It sets forth the responsibility of the Administration to take actions to undo the “historic patterns of segregation and other types of discrimination.” Memorandum on Redressing Our Nation’s and the Federal Government’s History of Discriminatory Housing Practices and Policies
- Direct the Department of Justice to end its use of private prisons: Noting that a disproportionate number percentage of the two million people currently incarcerated in the United States are people of color and that a 2016 Department of Justice inspector general’s report found that private prisons are “less safe, less secure and arguably less human,” this EO directs the Department of Justice (DOJ) to not renew any contracts with privately operated criminal detention facilities. Note that this order does not apply to private prisons used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Executive Order on Reforming Our Incarceration System to Eliminate the Use of Privately Operated Criminal Detention Facilities
- Reaffirm the federal government’s “commitment to tribal sovereignty and consultation”: Asserting the sovereignty of American Indian and Alaska Native Tribal Nations, this memorandum directs the Federal Government to engage in meaningful consultation with Tribal officials in the development of policies with Tribal implications. It directs agency heads and OMB to report to the President on the implementation of this directive. Memorandum on Tribal Consultation and Strengthening Nation-to-Nation Relationships
- Combat xenophobia against Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI): Citing an increased inflammatory rhetoric toward Asian American and Pacific Islander communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, this memorandum seeks to ensure that the Federal Government takes responsible actions to condemn and combat acts of racism, xenophobia and intolerance against AAPI populations. Memorandum Condemning and Combating Racism, Xenophobia, and Intolerance Against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States