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Politics Biden looks to expand legal assistance for minorities, low-income Americans

16:51  18 may  2021
16:51  18 may  2021 Source:   thehill.com

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President Biden will sign an executive action on Tuesday aimed at improving access to civil legal aid and public defenders for minorities and those from low-income backgrounds, as part of the White House's broader effort to advance racial justice in the United States.

Joe Biden wearing a suit and tie: Biden looks to expand legal assistance for minorities, low-income Americans © Getty Images Biden looks to expand legal assistance for minorities, low-income Americans

Biden will sign a presidential memorandum that directs Attorney General Merrick Garland to submit a plan to expand the Justice Department's access to justice work within 120 days, or four months, according to a White House fact sheet.

The Justice Department established the Office for Access to Justice in 2010 during the Obama administration to make the justice system more fair and legal representation more accessible to those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. The office was shuttered under the Trump administration by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions in 2018. Tuesday's memo will seek to revive its work.

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Biden will also reestablish the White House Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable, a panel of agency leaders first convened by former President Obama in 2015 that aimed to increase access to legal assistance through better coordination of the federal government.

The roundtable will be co-chaired by Garland and White House counsel Dana Remus. The Obama-era panel included more than a dozen agency heads from across government, including the secretaries of State, Housing and Urban Development, Education, Labor and Health and Human Services.

The White House said in the face sheet issued Tuesday morning that low-income Americans have "long struggled to secure quality access to the legal system" and that the coronavirus pandemic and related economic recession have exacerbated that problem.

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"The federal government has a critical role to play in expanding access to the nation's legal system and supporting the work of civil legal aid providers and public defenders," the White House said. "President Biden's executive action today will reinvigorate the federal government's role in advancing access to justice, and help ensure that the Administration's policies and recovery efforts can reach as many individuals as possible."

The action represents the latest effort by the White House to reform the justice system with an eye toward addressing racial injustices and economic inequality.

Garland has also opened investigations into police practices at the Minneapolis and Louisville police departments and rescinded a memo issued by Sessions that restricted the use of consent decrees to reform police departments.

Meanwhile, bipartisan lawmakers on Capitol Hill are currently negotiating a potential police reform bill in the wake of the conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Chauvin was convicted of second degree murder among other charges in the death of of George Floyd.

Biden has called for a measure to be passed by May 25, the anniversary of Floyd's death.

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usr: 0
This is interesting!