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The Biden administration on Friday announced a plan to identify “seven focus areas for comprehensive equity promotion” within the Department of Homeland Security.
Baptized to DHS equity action planthe effort is committed to ensuring that the civil rights offices of the department “have the resources they need to carry out their critical tasks.”
There are seven focus areas in the plan, all of which were selected based on feedback from “external stakeholders representing underserved communities.”
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Areas of focus include applying for naturalization, access to humanitarian protection during immigration proceedings, bidding for DHS contracts, combating all forms of terrorism and targeted violence, filing complaints and seeking redress in DHS programs and activities, airport screening and access to Trusted Traveler programs.
“Since January 2021, DHS has taken several meaningful steps to ensure that we serve the public and all communities across the country fairly,” said DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. “The DHS Equity Action Plan builds on our department’s advances in better integrating equity into the full range of DHS activities and reinforces our commitment to continue this critical work.”
As part of the plan, DHS promised to “identify barriers that may prevent access to naturalization among underserved communities” and remove these barriers to facilitate the naturalization process. In addition, DHS said it will “expand engagement” with small businesses owned by or supporting “members of underserved communities.”
The department also said it would work to “expand the capabilities of gender identification” for certain travel programs such as TSA PreCheck.
DHS said it would work to provide additional resources to “underserved communities” in an effort to “prevent individuals from radicalizing into violence and increase local capabilities” and push back against terrorism and targeted violence in various areas.
“Different societies are disproportionately affected by domestic violence and targeted violence,” DHS said in the statement.
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The move comes amid a series of issues facing the department and growing concern from Americans over the administration’s decision to repeal title 42 health policy. Section 42, which is set to expire on 23 May, provided the administration with the opportunity to prevent migrants from entering the country during a health crisis such as COVID-19 pandemic.
The Equity Action Plan was prompted by a decree signed by President Biden last year to promote “equality for all, including people of color and others who have historically been understaffed, marginalized and negatively affected by persistent poverty and inequality.”