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Biden’s Failure on Racial Equity


January 20th, 2022–A year ago today, President Biden promised to “pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality”. 

In a letter to President Biden, we shared solutions that his administration should adopt that would begin to chip away at the historic wrongs and inequities faced by Black people in this country. The *Until We’re Free coalition finds that the Biden administration has failed to keep this promise to uphold racial equity.  


Nana Gyamfi, Executive Director, Black Alliance for Just Immigration:
“The Biden administration’s anti-Blackness has been most obvious in its violence toward Haitian and other Black asylum-seekers at the US/Mexico border. Instead of ending Trump’s racist and deadly Title 42 and MPP (“Remain in Mexico”) policies, the administration has doubled down, forcibly continuing to expel over 17,000 Haitians and expanding MPP to include Black asylum-seekers from the Caribbean and the Americas. Even after the anti-Blackness of his border policies were devastatingly exposed at Del Rio, this administration reneged on its promise to investigate and continues with its violent treatment of Black people. “


Sirine Shebaya, Executive Director of the National Immigration Project
“Since taking office, President Biden has continued to fuel immigration enforcement and policing practices that have resulted in an unacceptable increase in detention numbers over the past year. For more than a year, advocates have provided President Biden with a detailed blueprint of solutions needed to advance racial justice, but these solutions have largely been ignored. We urge the Biden administration to stop paying lip service to our communities and to take immediate and concrete steps to dismantle the detention and deportation machinery and to invest in community care.”

Carl Hamad-Lipscombe, Executive Director, Envision Freedom Fund:
“For the past year we’ve shared our expertise with the Biden administration for solutions that address racial inequity when it comes to immigration bond and immigration detention. But we’ve seen no movement. Immigration bond amounts remain high—especially for immigrants from countries whose populations are majority Black, deportation flights to Haiti continue, and the number of people in detention overall continues to increase under Biden. Lives are at stake and our communities cannot wait any longer for this administration to keep its promises.”

Vince Warren, Executive Director, Center for Constitutional Rights:
“Since taking office, private prisons have continued to profit mightily from the caging of Black people and other people of color despite the administration’s Executive Action on Racial Equity. The Biden Administration must end the use of private prisons for immigration detention.  Relatedly, the administration must reallocate detention and police spending to invest in community safety measures in Black communities that meaningfully address economic inequality, climate change, unequal access to housing, healthcare, education and food insecurity.”

Kica Matos, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, Vera Institute of Justice:
“Last year’s images of Haitian migrants being whipped by United States border patrol officers on horseback offered a searing illustration of how President Biden has failed to fulfill his promise to usher in a more fair, just, and humane immigration system. The President must end MPP, Title 42, and other anti-asylum policies, and then work with Congress to pass immigration reform. We must account for past and current racist policies, and sever the links between immigration enforcement and racist criminal legal system policies and practices that disproportionately criminalize Black citizens and migrants. The President knows what to do – we’ve been telling him for over a year. Now he must do it.”

Brenda Pinero, advocate:
“Humanity is the cornerstone of our constitutional rights but the lack of follow through  from the Biden Administration demonstrates otherwise. Black and brown individuals deserve the utmost respect in their legal proceedings. Access to justice must be guaranteed regardless of accent, background,  or skin color.”

Ronald Claude, Director of Policy and Advocacy, Black Alliance for Just Immigration:
“Yesterday, President Biden took roughly 187 questions at his news conference – none of them on immigration. The President would like us to acknowledge his abysmal handling of the pandemic and the passing of the American Rescue Plan which has gaps at the expense of Black people. The President must advocate for a Build Back Better plan that ensures racial equity in the social safety net and immigration protections. The 2022 elections are around the corner, and the President should not assume that Black voters will continue to show up at a dinner party where we’re not expected to eat.”

Laura Martin, Executive Director of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada:
“Racial equity can no longer be an afterthought when developing and implementing any policy. Black voters are praised for “saving” elections for candidates who, through lack of action, show they have no interest in returning the favor. The Biden administration’s commitment to racial equity must be a promise kept, because our voting rights and our democracy are on the line. The administration must demonstrate they will fight to improve people’s lives and deliver for Black people.”


Judith Browne Dianis, Executive Director, Advancement Project, National Office:
“Immigration policy is a racial justice issue in this country.  The White House must address immigration as part of any effort to advance racial equity, yet that has not been done. Migrants, especially Black migrants, continue to be treated inhumanely and are met with tactics that say, “go back to where you came from.” Trump policies remain in place and must be dismantled. It is time for the Biden administration to walk the walk and change its stance on these issues.”


The Racial Equity Executive Order is the codification of a solemn obligation and moral imperative. The President is required to do more than set up a council, collect data,  give speeches, and host meetings. The President must use his executive powers and bully pulpit to improve the material conditions of Black people toward equity at all of our intersecting identities, including Black LGBTQ and people with disabilities. 

Biden must rescind Title 42 and the Migrant Protection Protocols. He must stop expulsions and deportations. He must release people from detention, close detention centers, and stop detaining people. He must push his leadership and his Congressional majority to pass legislation that provides Black people, citizens and migrants alike, with equitable access to healthcare, economic stability, housing, and education. He must divest from enforcement and policing and invest in community care. And, he must do everything within his power to push the voting rights bills through Congress. 

We, the people who ‘brung him to the dance’ as he likes to say, need to be at the forefront of this President’s agenda.This is what racial equity requires and what Black people across this nation need and demand.

The *Until We’re Free coalition was formed because we need to rethink the archaic criminal provisions frequently included in federal immigration legislation and instead focus on modern community-led, transformative solutions that improve our lives and communities. It is time that our immigration laws are free from anti-Blackness and that immigration is centered as a racial justice issue.