Joe Biden’s Agenda for Muslim-American Communities

Muslim-Americans are essential to the American fabric, and working with Muslim-American communities is critical to ensuring that Muslim-Americans are uplifted and empowered, and that their issues of concern are addressed within our democracy. You can’t define an American by where their family comes from, what they look like, or what faith they follow. America is an idea–that all men and women are created equal, that everyone is entitled to be treated with dignity. It’s an idea that’s stronger than any army and more powerful than any dictator, and while we’ve never perfectly lived up to this idea, generation after generation of Americans have opened wider the doors of opportunity to include more and more people. 

Muslim-Americans are a diverse, vibrant part of the United States, making invaluable cultural and economic contributions to communities all across the nation. But they also face real challenges and threats in our society, including racially-motivated violence and Islamophobia.

Joe Biden will work closely with Muslim-Americans to address the needs and legitimate concerns of the Muslim-American community. Joe said from the moment he launched his campaign that we’re in a battle for the soul of this nation–to prove that we are not the country Donald Trump thinks we are, that we believe in treating everyone with dignity and respect, that we give hate no safe harbor, that we demonize no one – not the poor, the powerless, the immigrant, the other. America should be a welcoming beacon of hope, where people of all backgrounds, cultures, and faiths can live freely without fear or intimidation.

Joe knows how we treat Muslim-Americans and prioritize issues affecting them reflects who we are as nation. As President, he will: protect Muslim-American constitutional and civil rights; honor the diversity of Muslim-American communities; ensure adequate healthcare; create a safe learning environment; rebuild our economy with a more resilient, more inclusive middle class; and make communities safer. 

Protect constitutional and civil rights of Muslim-Americans. 

On January 27, 2017, Donald Trump’s Administration launched an un-American attack on Muslims and refugees with the hateful goal of closing our nation off to immigrants who are often fleeing the worst conflict zones in the world, simply because of their faith. The Trump Administration’s anti-Muslim bias hurts our economy and betrays our values. Prohibiting Muslims from entering the country is morally wrong, and there is no intelligence or evidence that suggests it makes our nation more secure. It is yet another abuse of power by the Trump Administration designed to target primarily black and brown immigrants. 

Religious freedom is a foundational principle of this country. Protecting the religious freedom of Muslim-Americans is vital to protecting that right for us all and ensuring that America sets a positive example for the rest of the world. As President, Joe will rescind the Trump Administration’s Muslim Ban on day one and urge Congress to pass the No Ban Act to ensure future administrations cannot restore Trump’s Ban.

Joe will also ensure that all Americans will be treated with the rights and dignity that they are guaranteed under our Constitution. Despite comprising only 1% of the population, according to FBI statistics, nearly 15% of religion-based hate crimes were committed against Muslim-Americans in 2018. These are only the hate crimes that are reported. As President, Joe will directly address the rise in hateful attacks, fix long-standing issues with how the government reports and deals with hate crimes, and enact legislation prohibiting someone convicted of a hate crime from purchasing or possessing a firearm. Joe will order his Justice Department to focus additional resources to combat religion-based hate crimes and to confront white nationalist terrorism. Joe’s administration will confront discriminatory policies that single out Muslim-Americans and cast entire communities under suspicion, and he will ensure that our government’s engagement with Muslims is not viewed through a security lens. 

Honor the diversity and contributions of Muslim-Americans. 

The diversity of Muslim-American communities and their contributions to our nation are far too often overshadowed by forces of Islamophobia, especially when those in positions of power actively fan the flames of hate and bigotry. Joe will confront Islamophobia head-on and restore the Obama-Biden Administration’s tradition of honoring Muslim-American communities for their distinct contributions to American life. He will start with restoring the White House Eid celebration and filling the position of Muslim-American Liaison in the White House Office of Public Engagement, both eliminated by Donald Trump, to ensure a wide range of Muslim-American voices are heard within his administration. Joe appointed a Senior Advisor for Muslim Engagement on his presidential campaign and will build on that by ensuring a Biden Administration reflects the diversity of our nation across all federal agencies. As President, Joe will also restore American leadership, including through renewed global engagement and appointing a Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

Ensure Muslim-Americans have adequate healthcare. 

Joe Biden stood next to President Obama when he signed the Affordable Care Act into law and made history. It was a victory 100 years in the making. Because of Obamacare, more than 100 million people — including many Muslim-Americans — no longer have to worry that an insurance company will deny coverage or charge higher premiums to individuals with a pre-existing condition.  Yet, at this moment, Donald Trump is in court trying to have the Affordable Care Act declared unconstitutional and take away these protections for pre-existing conditions. 

Joe has a plan to build on the Affordable Care Act by giving Americans more choice, reducing health care costs, and making our health care system less complex to navigate. Whether someone is covered through their employer, buying insurance on their own, or going without coverage altogether, the Biden Plan will give Americans the choice to purchase a public health insurance option like Medicare, which will reduce costs and improve the efficacy and quality of care. He will also expand access to Medicare by lowering the eligibility age to 60.

Joe believes that every American – regardless of gender, race, income, sexual orientation, disability, or zip code – should have access to affordable and quality health care. Yet racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination permeate our health care system just as they do every other part of society. As President, Joe will be a champion for improving access to health care for all, including Muslim-Americans, by expanding coverage to low-income Americans, reversing the current administration’s assault on a woman’s right to choose, and doubling America’s investment in community health centers. Read more about Joe’s health care plan here 

Create a safe environment in school for all children. 

In a study conducted by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU), 42% of Muslims, 23% of Jews, and 6% of Catholics reported that at least one of their children had been bullied in the past year due to their religion — something no child should ever experience. Every child should receive a good education, no matter their zip code, their gender, the color of their skin, their religion, whether they have a disability, or their parent’s income. As President, Joe will ensure that educators are equipped with the support, dignity, and pay that they need and deserve so that students can grow into physically and emotionally healthy adults. Joe will support passage of the Safe Schools Improvement Act, which requires school districts to develop bullying and harassment policies, and he will double the number of psychologists, counselors, nurses, social workers, and other health professionals in our schools so our kids get the mental health care they need.

Joe will also invest in teacher mentoring, leadership, and additional education, so that teachers can focus their energy on shaping the next generation of Americans. Joe will triple Title I funding to eliminate the funding gap between high- and low-income school districts, as well as invest in community colleges and training to improve student success and grow a more prosperous middle class. 

Finally, Joe understands for too many, earning a degree or other credential after high school is unaffordable today. That’s why, as President, Joe will make public colleges and universities tuition-free for all students whose family incomes are below $125,000, as well as providing two years of community college or other high-quality training program without debt for any hard-working individual. He will also forgive student debt for low-income and middle class individuals who have attended public colleges and universities. Read more of Joe’s plan for K-12 education here and education beyond high school here

Restore the American dream for all Americans. 

Joe is running for President to rebuild the backbone of America—the middle class—and make sure that this time everyone comes along. Joe knows that the middle class isn’t a number—it’s a set of values: owning your home, sending your kids to college, being able to save and get ahead. To build a stronger, more inclusive middle class, Joe will increase the federal minimum wage to $15, strengthen public and private sector unions, and address the pay gap. 

Joe knows many Muslim-Americans are small business owners, entrepreneurs, and inventors. As President, Joe will also double down on the State Small Business Credit Initiative. He will extend the program through 2025 and double its federal funding to $3 billion, driving close to $30 billion of private sector investments to small businesses, especially those owned by women and people of color. Read more of Joe’s plan for boosting the middle class here. 

Reduce incarceration and make our communities safer. 

According to a 2019 report by Muslim Advocates, Muslim-Americans make up 9% of the state prison population, despite comprising 1% of the overall population. Too often, their basic ability to worship and their rehabilitative and developmental needs are not met while in prison, and they return home to a system that does not welcome them.

Joe will ensure the U.S. Justice Department uses pattern-or-practice investigations and consent decrees to address systemic misconduct in police departments and prosecutors’ offices. He will also dedicate more resources to keeping families and mosques safe from Islamophobic attacks. 

And, as President, Joe will prioritize redemption and rehabilitation. Joe will eliminate mandatory minimums for nonviolent crimes and get rid of cash bail, so income does not determine how long someone is in jail. He will invest $1 billion a year in juvenile justice reform; decriminalize cannabis and expunge records; and end incarceration for drug use alone, diverting people to drug courts and treatment, and expanding access to mental health care. Read more of Joe’s plan for reforming our justice system here

Champion human rights and democracy globally. 

Human rights are at the core of the very idea of America, and the United States is safer when fundamental rights are protected worldwide. In too many countries, we are seeing governments led by brutal regimes that fail to protect the civil and political rights and the dignity of their citizens. For democracies to prevail against the growing threat of authoritarianism, the United States must again put human rights at the center of our engagement with the world. In stark contrast to the current administration’s inaction, Joe will restore America’s role and voice as a human rights champion on a global scale. During Joe’s first year in office, the U.S. will organize and host a Global Summit for Democracy. The summit will prioritize results by galvanizing significant new commitments in three areas: fighting corruption, countering authoritarianism, and advancing human rights globally. If countries want to attend, they’ll have to make tangible commitments that demonstrate their sense of shared responsibility and interest in preserving free and open societies.

Joe also understands the pain Muslim-Americans feel towards what’s happening in Muslim-majority countries and countries with significant Muslim populations. The forced detention of over a million Uyghur Muslims in western China is unconscionable. As President,  Joe will speak out against the internment camps in Xinjiang and hold the people and companies complicit in this appalling oppression accountable. Additionally, systematic discrimination and atrocities against Burma’s Rohingya Muslim minority is abhorrent and undermines peace and stability. In Kashmir, the Indian government should take all necessary steps to restore rights for all the people of Kashmir.  Restrictions on dissent, such as preventing peaceful protests or shutting or slowing down the Internet, weaken democracy. Joe Biden has been disappointed by the measures that the government of India has taken with the implementation and aftermath of the National Register of Citizens in Assam and the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act into law. These measures are inconsistent with the country’s long tradition of secularism and with sustaining a multi-ethnic and multi-religious democracy. 

People of many faiths across the Middle East are overdue for political and economic reform–as well as a return to principled American diplomacy–to help them find dignity, prosperity, and peace. That includes ending Donald Trump’s “blank check” for Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses at home and abroad and ending the war in Yemen. It means having tough conversations about human rights with both friends and rivals. It means welcoming refugees fleeing conflict to our shores again. As President, Joe will actively engage Israelis and Palestinians alike to help them find ways to live together in peace, freedom, security, and prosperity and to champion a two-state solution. He will continue to oppose Israeli settlement expansion and has spoken out against annexation in the West Bank. He will reopen the U.S. Consulate in East Jerusalem, and restore economic and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians.  

Reform our immigration system. 

It’s past time to overhaul our broken immigration system. In his first 100 days as President, Joe will immediately reverse the Trump Administration’s cruel and senseless policies that separate parents from their children at our border, address the humanitarian crisis at our border, restore our asylum laws so that they do what they should be designed to do–protect people fleeing persecution and who cannot return home safely, protect Dreamers and their families, order an immediate review of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for vulnerable populations who cannot find safety in their countries ripped apart by violence or disaster, and ensure that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel abide by professional standards and are held accountable for inhumane treatment. Joe will institute a 100-day moratorium on deportations for those already living and working in the United States and put real political capital into passing legislative immigration reform that provides a roadmap to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants enriching our communities. Finally, Joe will reverse Trump administration policies that have effectively gutted our refugee program.  He will set the annual global refugee admissions cap to 125,000 in his first year in office, and seek to raise it over time commensurate with our responsibility, our values, and the unprecedented global need. With more than 70 million displaced people in the world today, this is a moment that demands American leadership. Offering hope and haven to refugees is part of who we are as a country. Read more of Joe’s plan for reforming our immigration system here.