Biden signs four executive actions focused on racial equity

WASHINGTON, DC — Racial equality was the key focus for the Biden-Harris administration Tuesday as President Biden signed a series of executive actions that aim to reform the prison and housing systems among other changes.

“We need to open the promise of America to every American,” Biden said. “We need to make the issue of racial equity not just an issue for any one department of government, it has to be an issue for the whole of government.”

One executive action orders the U.S. Department of Justice to not renew contracts with private prison operators.

“Mass incarceration imposes significant costs on our society and communities, while private prisons profiteer off of federal prisoners in less safe conditions for prisoners and correctional officers alike,” the White House said. “President Biden is committed to reducing mass incarceration while making our communities safer. That starts with ending DOJ’s reliance on private prisons.”

Day 1 Alliance, a trade association representing private contractors blasted the order saying in part: “The administration’s Executive Order is a misguided attempt to blame longtime government contractors for a ‘mass incarceration’ problem they actually play zero role in driving… Private sector contractors have been a small but valued part of the solution to serious challenges facing the US Department of Justice for decades.”

Another executive action calls for the Department of Housing and Urban Development to review fair housing policies.

“This Presidential Memorandum directs HUD to examine the effects of the previous Administration’s regulatory actions that undermined fair housing policies and laws and, it directs HUD to take steps necessary based on that analysis to fully implement the Fair Housing Act’s requirements,” the White House said.

“These are continuations of our initial steps to advance racial justice and equity through early executive action,” said White House Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice.

Biden also signed executive actions focused on strengthening the federal government’s relationship with American-Indian and Alaska native tribes as well as fighting discrimination against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders.