President Joe Biden signs his first executive orders in the Oval Office of the White House on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

By Sean Yoes
AFRO Senior Reporter

Joseph R. Biden Jr., sworn in on Jan. 20 as the 46th President of the United States of America, pledged to get to work on day one of his presidency to undo some of the damage done by his predecessor, the disgraced Donald J. Trump.

Biden has outlined a long list of executive orders to be implemented immediately, several of which may have significant consequences in communities of color.

On the afternoon of his inauguration, Biden signed 17 executive orders, memorandums and proclamations from the Oval Office. According to Biden’s advisers, several were signed immediately to “reverse the gravest damage” done to the country by Trump.

Here are five Biden executive orders that specifically impact Black people and other people of color, as well as other disenfranchised groups:

  1. Extending foreclosure and eviction moratoriums. Biden will ask the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to extend the federal eviction moratorium at least until March 31. He will also ask the Department of Veterans Affairs, Agriculture and Housing and Urban Development (HUD), to extend foreclosure moratoriums for federally guaranteed mortgages also, until at least March 31.
  2. Rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. The effects of global warming have a disproportionate negative impact on many Black and poor communities. Biden will bring the U.S. back into the Paris Agreement, reversing the position of the Trump Administration. The U.S. will be reinstated officially in 30 days.
  3. Revoking the Keystone XL pipeline permit. Indigenous Americans and Canadians have fought for several years against the extension of the massive pipeline for various reasons including the potential damage done to Indigenous sacred sites, as well as pollution and water contamination. The proposed pipeline extension would run through Baker, Montana, as well as parts of North Dakota. President Obama temporarily halted the construction of the XL pipeline in 2015, but Trump reinstated the permit in January 2017.
  • Advance and embed racial equity within federal agencies.  The Biden executive order would implement equity across federal policymaking in an effort to root out systemic racism. The order would also officially define equity as the “consistent and systematic fair, just and impartial treatment of all individuals, including individuals who belong to underserved communities, such as Black, Latino, Indigenous and Native American persons, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and other persons of color; LGBTQ+ persons, people with disabilities; religious minorities, persons who live in rural areas; and persons otherwise affected by persistent poverty or inequality.”

Ending the Muslim Ban. The Biden executive order will reverse Trump’s controversial and xenophobic Muslim Ban, instituted in Jan., 2017, which barred entry into the United States from primarily Muslim and African nations. The Biden action instructs the State Department to re engage visa processing for those impacted by the ban.

Sean Yoes

AFRO Baltimore Editor