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By Clarence Okoh

Testimony about his extensive experience in combating the use of emerging technologies to undermine the civil and human rights of youth and young adults of color. He highlighted his involvement in initiatives such as the PASCO Coalition: People Against the Surveillance of Children and Overpolicing, which successfully challenged predictive policing programs in schools, resulting in policy changes and federal investigations. Okoh also co-founded the NOTICE Coalition: No Tech Criminalization in Education, advocating to end the use of data and technology for surveillance and criminalization in education. He emphasized the importance of translating the radical imaginations of youth of color into legal and policy solutions.

In his testimony, Okoh focused on the alarming rise of AI-enabled police surveillance technologies in public schools, urging policymakers to implement bans and comprehensive data privacy protections to safeguard the rights of marginalized youth.

>>Download the full testimony

By Suzanne Wikle

4 min read.

Many states across the country are embracing multi-year continuous coverage for young children insured by Medicaid. This is an important policy for supporting the health and well-being of children. But less attention has been paid to the positive impact this policy has on coverage for kids of color, in particular, and how the policy reduces administrative burdens for people experiencing poverty.

Multi-year continuous coverage means that once children are enrolled in Medicaid, they remain eligible, regardless of changes in their families’ income, until the end of their eligibility period. For example, several states have asked the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for permission to provide multi-year continuous eligibility for children through age six. This means that when children younger than six are enrolled in Medicaid, they will remain eligible until their sixth birthday. After they turn six, their family would need to complete the renewal process to determine if the child is still eligible and may stay enrolled. For babies enrolled in Medicaid shortly after their birth, this policy means they would have the assurance of affordable health insurance for the first six years of their life, without interruption.

Continuous Coverage and Racial Equity
Providing multiple years of continuous eligibility eliminates a lot of administrative burdens, such as navigating bureaucratic paperwork and waiting to hear if additional information needs to be submitted, for up to six years. We know that administrative burdens exacerbate inequity and directly lead to procedural disenrollments, so any reduction in these burdens is a step in the right direction.

More than two-thirds of children enrolled in Medicaid are Black, Hispanic, Asian American, American Indian or Alaska Native, or multiracial. Between that and the fact that administrative burdens are more likely to lead to coverage loss among people of color, it’s imperative that states take steps to minimize the administrative burden for eligible people to remain on Medicaid. Multi-year continuous coverage is a positive step forward.

As pandemic-era protections that kept people continuously enrolled in Medicaid have ended over the past year, we have a better sense of the impact of administrative burden. States resumed Medicaid renewals about a year ago and more than 4.5 million children have lost Medicaid coverage. But that doesn’t mean those children aren’t still eligible for Medicaid. There are two reasons someone may lose coverage: they are found ineligible for Medicaid or they are disenrolled for procedural reasons, meaning their paperwork was not completed and an assessment of ongoing eligibility was not made.

While we don’t have data that tell us the number of child-specific procedural disenrollments, we do know that 70 percent of total disenrollments across the country have been for procedural reasons. We also know that applications are increasing in many states, suggesting that people who were procedurally disenrolled are re-applying and likely still eligible.

Louisiana provides one snapshot of data because it is publishing unwinding and churn data by age. Children in the state accounted for 32 percent of closed cases and nearly 50 percent of people who “churned” back onto Medicaid. Multi-year continuous eligibility policies will help reduce this cycle of procedural disenrollments and churning back onto Medicaid. It’s a smart move for children and for the state.

Multi-year Eligibility Aids Anti-Poverty Work

Nearly half of all children insured by Medicaid are in families living below the poverty line. More than 60 percent of families earn less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level. These rates are higher for all minority groups. Multi-year continuous eligibility policies are important for anti-poverty policy work for two reasons.

First, these policies significantly reduce administrative burden, which in turn eliminates a small part of the mental load of poverty. When families are struggling to make ends meet, put food on the table, or pay rent, it’s easy to miss an envelope with the paperwork for Medicaid renewals. Taking that off the “to-do” list allows families to focus on other pressing needs.

Second, families will not have to decide between a better-paying job and losing Medicaid for their young children. Continuous eligibility means that children remain eligible even if their family begins to earn more money, which may put them over the eligibility criteria. This allows families to prioritize their income for other expenses that come with young children, such as child care.

Looking Ahead

We expect to see more approvals from CMS for states asking to implement multi-year continuous eligibility and more states looking to adopt this promising policy. For the more than 30 million kids insured by Medicaid, this is a concrete action states can carry out to ensure young children are more likely to receive all their developmental check-ups, while also taking positive steps to decrease inequities and help families.

NOTE: A previous version of this blog post incorrectly characterized the percentage of Medicaid disenrollments due to procedural reasons as consisting only of children. The percentage includes both children and adults, and the post was corrected on April 8, 2024, to reflect this information.



By Tatiana Villegas

4 min read.

On February 7, 2024, Nex Benedict—a transgender, nonbinary Indigenous 16-year-old—passed away a day after being attacked in their school bathroom. Nex had discussed how they were bullied often due to “the way we dress” and their queer identity. Nex was taken too soon from this world. This tragedy took place in the state of Oklahoma: a state that has some of the most anti-trans laws on the books, a state that has the most anti-trans bills under consideration by the legislature, and a state that ranks 47 in LGBTQ+ safety according to

On this Trans Day of Visibility, it’s important to recognize how anti-trans bills are connected to the legacy of colonialism and to understand how these bills continue the oppression of historically marginalized groups.

Much of the anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and policies we see today stem from Western colonization. Western colonization is a global phenomenon with many of the same nations sharing similar histories of white supremacy, violence, erasure, and exploitation. Western countries imposed their rigid ideas of gender and sexuality on Indigenous peoples, ideas that were often in conflict with the existing cultural norms.

This applies to Western colonization in the United States. It has been documented that around 150 pre-colonial Native American tribes acknowledged third-gender people. European colonizers condemned same-sex relationships and third-gendered people calling it sinful. During this period there was also an abundance of dehumanizing rhetoric around Indigenous people and their culture, including transphobic and homophobic language. The enforcement of binary gender and gender roles by Western colonization disrupted longstanding cultural traditions and attempted to eradicate Indigenous beliefs as a whole. The ongoing violence against Queer Indigenous people, like Nex, is a legacy of this colonial violence.

The effects of colonization linger today with direct impacts on people’s lives systematically, socially, and economically. Many of the current bills, acts, and policies demonstrate parallels to historical policies through institutional forces that worked to destroy Indigenous culture. For example, the tactics of removal and forced assimilation that have been used to minimize Indigenous sovereignty and identity are the same tactics being used to attack Transgender people today.

This year, Wyoming House Bill 156 stated that gender-affirming care was “not in the best interest” for trans youth. The bill would have meant that a transgender child could be removed from a loving safe home that supported gender-affirming care. While this legislation failed to pass the Wyoming House, similar policies have been proposed by Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

Attempts to remove young people from affirming households are not new. Recently, the federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), an Act that bolstered Indigenous sovereignty was put into question for being racially discriminatory to non-Native people. Overturning ICWA would have subjected Indigenous youth to being physically away from their tribal lands, separated from other Indigenous people, and disconnected from their culture. Even though ICWA was upheld in this case, the challenge to ICWA is a reminder that Indigenous sovereignty continues to be attacked under a colonialist state.

In both cases, policymakers have long understood that displacing people in non-affirming places pushes toward assimilation and erasure of their identity. Attempted erasure of identities belonging to marginalized communities is not a new tactic. During times of forced assimilation and racist rhetoric around Native people, it benefited Indigenous people to assimilate and distance themselves from their culture and people. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, when there was an increase of Indigenous resistance and sovereignty, there was a spike in people identifying with being Native American on the U.S Census. There weren’t more Indigenous children being born necessarily, but rather, more Native people were reclaiming their identity. Similarly, despite the rhetoric of many on the right, Trans and Queer people have always existed. However, their visibility depends on the safety of being “out.”

When historically oppressed groups are granted more rights and social rhetoric changes to be more positive, there is an increase in their pride, self-acceptance, and sheer presence in society. Trans existence, Black and brown joy, and the independence of all people combat the erasure that is essential to the colonial project.

Trans Day of Visibility should be about honoring and acknowledging Trans and Queer histories and about celebrating Trans and Queer people in all of their identities. Despite the political violence and physical violence Trans people are being subjected to, the Transgender and Queer community show resilience through organizing, celebrating, and educating others about what it means to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community. Embracing cultures and identities like that of Indigenous and Transgender backgrounds collectively strengthens all communities through the rejection of colonial norms.

Trans and Queer people deserve to be protected, loved, and live long fulfilling lives. Honor Nex Benedict by speaking out against hateful rhetoric, educating others about the beauties of the LGBTQ+ community, and pushing for political rights for Trans and Queer people. In solidarity and unity, we can work toward a future of love, acceptance, and freedom for all people.

By Deanie Anyangwe

4 min read.

“[M]urder rate go up—murder rate go down—like I said. But there’s always killing.”

-Young Adult Focus Group Participant, Behind the Asterisk*, 2019

For many young people in the United States, community violence is an unfortunate part of daily life. Also called neighborhood violence, community violence is an interpersonal form of violence between individuals not involved in familial or intimate relationships. It includes incidents such as shootings, stabbings, and other aggravated assaults; is often carried out by young people; and frequently occurs in public settings. These situations happen when complex environmental factors like poverty, structural racism, systemic disinvestment, and easy access to alcohol, drugs, and weapons coincide.

“I was stabbed six times with a screwdriver, and the second time I was stabbed six times in the night. So that makes me who I am now. I never trust anybody to be behind me. I always watch my back.”

-Young Adult Focus Group Participant, Behind the Asterisk*, 2019

Community violence is a traumatic stressor that has damaging effects on young people’s mental, social, psychological, physical and economic well-being. Young people exposed to violence are at risk for poor long-term behavioral and mental health outcomes, such as depression, anxiety, and aggressive behaviors. In instances where young people are chronically exposed to community violence, they may also demonstrate symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, regardless of whether they are victims, direct witnesses, or hear about the crime. Evidence also shows that people who were exposed to gun violence fatalities experienced higher levels of depression and suicidal ideation than those who were not exposed.

Community violence also creates barriers to developing healthy relationships with peers and community members. Young people are less likely to use public spaces such as parks due to safety concerns. Youth exposure to community violence is associated with poor academic performance, educational outcomes, labor force participation, and earnings into adulthood. Exposure to community violence and the ripple effects of trauma and grief place enormous strain on children and youth, families, schools, employers, hospitals, government systems, and entire communities.

Gun violence overwhelmingly harms people in communities that have been economically marginalized. Neighborhoods with high levels of violence routinely face multiple compounding challenges arising from and exacerbated by structural inequity and racist policies such as segregation; limited availability of or access to quality jobs; a lack of safe and affordable housing; a lack of affordable, quality physical and mental health services; and histories of divestment. Moreover, significant research on the interactions of place and violence, along with a robust body of evidence, demonstrates the connection between state-sponsored racial segregation and rates of violence today. 

“But, you know, and then on the other hand, you have these communities where people feel that we need to shoot each other, you know? You got gangs being the only support that people have. You got all these bad and bad influences, mental health problems, mass shootings. You don’t know. People are, they’re not getting support like on all fronts.”

-Young Adult Focus Group Participant, 2023

While some young people embrace guns, this is largely due to a collective failure to keep our young people safe using non-carceral, community-centered, effective community safety strategies. Many young people that carry guns don’t intend to commit crimes but feel the weapons are necessary to protect their own physical safety. They often have guns to protect their own physical safety and largely do not convey any intent to use these weapons to proactively commit crimes. 

Black youth are 14 percent of young people ages 14-24 in the U.S., but account for nearly 48 percent of all gun-related deaths among all young people in this age group. Yet Black youth continue to be targeted as the cause for the rising violence in America. Policymakers in states such as Maryland and Georgia and cities including  Washington, D.C., New York City, and Philadelphia are pathologizing Black youth to justify anti-Black, tough on crime policies, despite the vast evidence that these policies are both destructive and ineffective. This bipartisan effort to criminalize Black youth subjects them to state-sanctioned violence as punishment for structural problems that they did not create. And while the overall number of homicides committed by youth rose slightly in recent years along with national trends, current youth arrest rates are the lowest that they have been in the last 40 years.

Successful non-carceral CVI strategies that have led to decreases in community violence in cities across the country include non-police street outreach and violence interruption, and hospital-based violence intervention programs. Policymakers examine these strategies, and embrace a structural analysis to understand the reasons that cause young people to own guns, and invest in communities to enable them to lead this work. Policymakers must adopt a more nuanced understanding of the roles systemic divestment, place-based disadvantage, anti-Black racism, racial capitalism, mass criminalization and other critical factors have in driving community violence. Lastly, policymakers should ground proposed interventions in knowledge of how interlocking systems of violence manifest to create the circumstances that lead to community violence in order to effectively address the problem and keep our young people safe. 

Behind every act of community violence there are families, friends, and communities left to grapple with the aftermath of trauma, injury, and/or loss of life. Interventions that address community violence support youth mental health. Our young people have been clear on what they need. It is now on us to do our part to keep them safe.

By Juan Carlos Gomez

4 min read.

President Biden’s State of the Union address makes it clear that he has decided to continue down the path of enforcing harmful and failed immigration policies rather than strengthen our country by supporting and welcoming immigrants as he promised in his 2020 campaign. While the Biden Administration has taken some important actions to support immigrants, its consistent pattern has been one step forward and three steps back. Now, the administration seems intent on rolling back any progress it made and any trust it rebuilt with immigrant communities for the sake of appearing “tough” on immigration. 

But being “tough” does not mean you have to support cruel and ineffective policies. That’s something that Biden seemed to understand shortly after his inauguration. In February 2021, Biden introduced an executive order to address immigration, stating, “Securing our borders does not require us to ignore the humanity of those who seek to cross them… Nor is the United States safer when resources that should be invested in policies targeting actual threats, such as drug cartels and human traffickers, are squandered on efforts to stymie legitimate asylum seekers.”

President Biden said he would work to restore our asylum system, which had been eroded by the Trump Administration. But just three short years later, Biden has instead decided to employ many of those same policies to thwart asylum seekers. Not only is he parroting Trump’s immigration policies, but he’s also building on them to further curtail migrants’ rights.

There are numerous examples of how the Biden Administration has continued or made the policies of the previous administration more severe: 

Last week, Joe Biden and Donald Trump visited the border. Although they visited separately, both centered their talking points on the same racist approach to immigration. Instead of proposing actual solutions to support our immigration system, Biden uplifted the failed Senate bill consisting of Trump-era policies and even went so far as to invite Trump to “join him” in working to pass these policies together. 

During his State of the Union, Biden had the opportunity to distinguish himself from Trump. Instead, he chose to continue to double down on hateful and harmful policies. His speech was reflective of his administration so far, demonstrating a strong disconnect between his rhetoric and intentions. 

Biden said he would not demonize immigrants, but moments earlier used the incredibly racist term “illegal immigrant.” No human being is “illegal.” Continuing to echo that language is dehumanizing and puts immigrant communities at risk of violence. He said he would not separate families, but his current and proposed immigration policies have separated and continue to separate families. He said he would not ban people from the country because of their faith, and while it may be true that he’s not singling out a specific community, his proposed action would make asylum harder for nearly everyone to enter the U.S., regardless of their faith. Invoking his Irish heritage, Biden alluded to the Great Famine in Ireland, but families seeking shelter today from similar hardship would have extreme difficulty getting into the country under the policies he wants to implement. 

Biden is right to call out Trump for playing politics with immigrants’ lives, but by adopting Trump’s policies and uplifting racist rhetoric he has chosen to do the same. This is a complete failure and reversal of what President Biden promised.

When he first took office, President Biden understood which policies centered humanity and our American values. He understood that punitive measures were not going to make either immigrants or U.S. citizens safer, and they were not going to make our immigration system more orderly. He understood that we need to invest in our systems to create pathways to legalization and citizenship, rather than investing in enforcement. In fact, one of the first bills the Biden Administration pushed forward was the U.S. Citizenship Act, which reflected this vision. However, as immigration has become a more polarizing topic, the administration has backed away from the humane approach it once touted. 

The United States has the capability and responsibility to support those immigrating or seeking asylum within our borders. If President Biden is sincere about finding solutions he would put forward humane policies that actually and effectively address the issues in our immigration system.


Washington, D.C., February 28, 2024 – The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) today announced that Patrick Corvington will join as its first-ever chief of staff. CLASP created this new role to meet organizational needs borne out of growth in recent years.

“Patrick brings significant experience relevant to CLASP’s needs, including expertise in managing change at nonprofit organizations, valuable personal life experiences, and a deep commitment to doing the hard work needed to achieve racial, gender, economic, and social justice more broadly,” said Indivar Dutta-Gupta CLASP President and Executive Director. “Patrick is passionate about CLASP and places great value on building strong relationships—the sorts of relationships that I believe are essential to winning the social changes we need in this country.”

Corvington’s experiences are vast and deep in the nonprofit, government, and philanthropic sectors. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service in the Obama Administration. His decades-long career also includes senior roles at the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Habitat for Humanity, among others, along with policy research experience at the Urban Institute and community-level work with migrant farm workers early in his career.

A Haitian American, Corvington received the Outstanding American by Choice award during his tenure in President Obama’s administration. He was honored for a lifelong commitment to social justice that led him to serve in leadership capacities in various contexts.

John King, Chancellor of the State University of New York and former U.S. Secretary of Education, said, “I have long admired Patrick’s passion and commitment to social justice. Having both served in President Obama’s administration, I know Patrick to be a dedicated leader and strategic thinker working to end poverty and social inequality.”

“Patrick’s passion for social justice has led him to serve in diverse capacities – from grassroots organizing to the highest levels of philanthropy and government. His enduring commitment has never wavered,” said Echoing Green President Cheryl Dorsey.

Corvington will begin his tenure at CLASP on March 4, 2024.

# # # #

The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) is a national, nonpartisan, anti-poverty organization advancing a policy vision rooted in economic, racial, social, and gender justice for people with low incomes, with a focus on addressing systemic racism as the primary cause of poverty for communities of color. 



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The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) is a national, nonpartisan, anti-poverty organization advancing policy solutions that work for people with low incomes and people of color. We advocate for public policies and programs at the federal, state, and local levels with the goals of eliminating poverty, improving the lives of people with low incomes, and advancing racial and economic justice. Our solutions directly address the barriers individuals and families face because of race, ethnicity, low income, and immigration status.

CLASP’s policy work is carried out by five teams, focusing on Child Care and Early Education, Education, Labor and Worker Justice, Immigration and Immigrant Families, Income and Work Supports, and Youth and Young Adults.

Position Description

CLASP seeks a Policy Analyst to support one or more CLASP teams in their understanding of the historical context that has created today’s inequities and policies and in effectively incorporating this knowledge into their policy analysis, advocacy, and technical assistance. The Analyst will also have the opportunity to participate in policy analysis, advocacy and technical assistance on specific topics to be determined based on their own interests and the policy environment at the time of the Fellowship. The Policy Analyst will report to the Deputy Executive Director for Racial Equity and will in partnership with the policy teams.

In 2021, CLASP staff, working in partnership with academics, CLASP board members, and community partners, developed a Racial Equity Policy and Advocacy Framework, as a tool for CLASP policy teams to use in their work from high-level planning to individual projects. One of the key steps identified as part of this framework is “Analysis of Policy in Historical Context, With Attention to Root Cause.” This project would result in teams more consistently having the skills and knowledge to incorporate a historical perspective on their issue area with respect to how disparities and inequities are rooted in anti- Blackness, xenophobia, and other forms of racism. This project would prepare the fellow for a career in policy advocacy and technical assistance. The fellowship tenure is 24 consecutive months, with an expected time commitment of approximately 37.5 hours per week.



How to Apply

Information on the Leading Edge Fellowship Program:

All applications must be submitted through the ACLS Online Fellowship Application System (

Application Deadline





A Black History Month Reflection on Key Leaders in the Fight for Civil Rights

As we approach the closing days of Black History Month, now is a good time to reflect on the memories and positive stories associated with the 60th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. But the work started by many of those we honor this month is far from over.

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Cash Assistance is a Critical Part of Reproductive Justice

The conversation on reproductive justice has been front and center in many spaces following the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision. Many advocates, organizers, and policymakers have united across issue areas to support reproductive rights—specifically access to safe, affordable, and accessible abortion. However, economic insecurity and poverty are incompatible with reproductive justice.

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Challenges to Just and Effective 988 Implementation

Youth and young adults currently face an unprecedented mental and behavioral health crisis that has led to an increase in youth suicide rates, mental and behavioral health concerns, and disconnection from school and work. This series of fact sheets explores the challenges and missed opportunities to effectively implement the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline and transform our country’s existing mental and behavioral health crisis response system.

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Making USDA More Equitable

In 2022 Elizabeth Lower-Basch was appointed to serve on the USDA Equity Commission, which released its final report today at a meeting where she served as a panelist. In a blog, Elizabeth shares her reflections on the Commission’s work and its 66 recommendations for improving equity in the USDA’s many policies, practices, and programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

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This new report examines the pivotal role of Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) in addressing the educational needs of students of color, particularly Black immigrants, amid systemic inequities in postsecondary education.

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CLASP in the News & Partner Blogs


Why we need to rethink the term “student-athlete”


Op Ed: SCOTUS Ruling Disproportionately Impacts Opportunities for Black Males

Upcoming Events

February 28: Christian Collins will give a virtual guest lecture to graduate students in the Sports Administration program at UNC-Chapel Hill on his Equal Play, Unequal Pay report. The lecture will also focus on the unique ways that college athletics and public policy intersect.

Recent Events

February 22: Isha Weerasinghe presented to a cohort of 13 state legislators who are part of the Future Caucus on the importance of addressing maternal mental health.

February 13: The Biden-Harris Administration brought together nearly 90 young people from across the nation for the first-ever interagency Youth Policy Summit: Cultivating Possibilities. New Deal for Youth Changemakers and members of CLASP staff served on the youth planning committee, helped with preparation, moderated panels and discussions, and attended the event.


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By Elizabeth Lower-Basch

3 min read.

For the past two years, I have had the honor of serving on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Equity Commission. Section 1006 of the American Rescue Plan directed the USDA to create this commission, building on President Biden’s January 2021 Executive Order 13985 On Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. At today’s USDA equity summit, the Commission released its final report, which contains 66 recommendations for improving equity within USDA’s programs, policies, and practices.  

For the first several meetings of the Equity Commission, I wasn’t sure what I had to contribute. I was appointed to the Commission as a policy expert, presumably because of my deep knowledge of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and previous experience working in the federal government. But we immediately dove deeply into issues related to agriculture that I knew nothing about. I spent a lot of time reading the background materials we were given and making notes of questions that I needed to ask. 

As a Commission, we reviewed multiple reports dating back to 1965 that documented concerns with inequity and discrimination at USDA and made recommendations. In reading those reports and other background materials and listening to my fellow members of the commission and its agriculture subcommittee, I learned about the lasting harm caused by historical discrimination and understood why this was where we started. For example, I learned how under “base acres,” seemingly identical plots of land are worth different amounts, depending on how much payments they qualify for from USDA, which in turn depends on what crops were planted on them in the 1990s – a period when USDA has been proven in court to have been discriminating against Black and Native American farmers. 

Eventually, I told myself that if USDA didn’t want us to also make recommendations about the nutrition programs – which account for more than two-thirds of all USDA spending – they wouldn’t have put me on the Commission. So, while I learned from my counterparts about agriculture, rural development, and research and extension programs, I shared with them about the inequities in SNAP and other nutrition programs, and the relationships between federal policy and state administration. 

I am proud of the work that we did as a Commission. Our 66 recommendations address how to institutionalize equity across the Department, including language access, improving the customer experience, procurement, and ensuring that the Office of Civil Rights has the necessary resources to do its job. The recommendations cover how USDA works with farmers, ranchers, and producers; with farmworkers and their families; with land-grant universities; and with all residents of rural America.  For example, we recommended equitable funding for “minority-serving institutions” that are land grant colleges and universities but that have never received comparable funding to those that were first funded in 1862, resulting in inequitable access to technical assistance as well as education. 

The Commission’s recommendations also address the nutrition programs that serve more than 40 million people.  We recommended legislative actions to reduce inequities, including lifting restrictions based on immigration status, providing equitable access to residents of Puerto Rico and other insular territories, ending the time limit on benefit receipt for unemployed people who are not living with dependent children, and removing the ban on SNAP assistance for people with previous drug felony convictions. We also made administrative recommendations, including supporting state agencies in consulting with participants to improve the experience of applying for and receiving benefits. 

Recognizing the critical roles that immigrants play in our agriculture and food systems, the Commission also called for clear and accessible pathways to citizenship.  We included recommendations to ensure that all farmworkers receive equitable compensation and labor protections, and that farmworkers and their families can access food and housing. 

But if the report we released today is the final result of the Commission, I will consider it a failure. The Equity Commission will be a success only if these recommendations have an impact on policy and practice—not just now but lasting into future administrations. Some of our recommendations are beyond the power of USDA to adopt without Congressional authorization. Because Congress did not pass a Farm Bill in 2023 but instead extended current law for a year, there is an opportunity to begin incorporating recommendations from this report into law as soon as this year. 

Our final report is out, but the Equity Commission members’ terms last through this year. Our job now is to make sure that this is not just another report with good intentions, but one that leads to overdue and lasting change. 

By India Heckstall, Christian Collins, Felecia Russell, and Melquin Ramos

The report “Fostering Inclusion for Black Immigrant Students at HBCUs” examines the pivotal role of Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) in addressing the educational needs of students of color, particularly Black immigrants, amid systemic inequities in postsecondary education. Despite facing declining enrollment, HBCUs remain vital for fostering academic success and socioeconomic mobility, especially for Black immigrant students. The report highlights challenges such as declining enrollment, financial barriers, and limited support for immigrant students. It offers policy recommendations that emphasize the importance of auditing admissions policies, building supportive environments, and expanding access to federal financial aid. Collaborative efforts between federal agencies, states, and institutions are crucial to creating inclusive environments and removing barriers for Black immigrant students, thus promoting equity and diversity in higher education.

>> Read the full report