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  4. DHS Affirms Commitment to Counter Discrimination Based on Shared Ancestry and Ethnic Characteristics in Historic Interagency Effort

DHS Affirms Commitment to Counter Discrimination Based on Shared Ancestry and Ethnic Characteristics in Historic Interagency Effort

Release Date: September 28, 2023

WASHINGTON – As part of the Department’s work to implement the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) clarified that Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics, also prohibits forms of antisemitic, Islamophobic, and related forms of discrimination and bias in federally funded programs and activities. By taking this historic step, DHS will be able to expand upon its commitment to further protect the civil rights of America’s faith-based communities.  

“Insidious acts of hate and discrimination harm not only those directly targeted, they also harm the broader community of which we are all a part,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “DHS is fulfilling the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to combat all forms of hate and discrimination by vigorously enforcing our nation’s civil rights laws and protecting the many diverse communities that make America great.” 

DHS joins the Departments of Agriculture, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, Treasury, and Transportation in producing fact sheets that describe ways in which Title VI lends protections to individuals of many different faith traditions such as people who identify as Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Hindu, or Buddhist. Agencies have distributed these fact sheets widely to educate people in the United States about these protections. DHS enforces Title VI through DHS’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (DHS CRCL), and the Federal Emergency Management Agency Office of Equal Rights (FEMA OER). Fact sheets will be available in multiple languages.    

Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act applies to all programs and activities supported by federal financial assistance. These protections are wide-ranging and provide important tools to prevent and curb discrimination based on race, color, and national origin, including shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics, and therefore prohibit certain forms of antisemitic, Islamophobic, and related forms of discrimination and bias.  

These fact sheets are an integral part DHS plays a key role in executing this strategy, which is the most comprehensive and ambitious U.S. government effort to counter antisemitism in American history. The strategy includes over 100 new actions the Administration will take to raise awareness of antisemitism and its threat to American democracy, protect Jewish communities, reverse the normalization of antisemitism, and build cross-community solidarity.   

DHS continues to actively implement its commitments made under the National Strategy. For example: 

  • DHS and the Department of Justice published a resource guide for houses of worship and other faith-based institutions to increase security while sustaining an open and welcoming environment.  

  • The DHS Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships institutionalized its Protecting Places of Worship Week of Action. It expanded the Week of Action to 12 days to support Jewish institutions that may be celebrating the Jewish high holidays in September this year. During the Week of Action, it encouraged peer-to-peer learning about steps organizations and communities can take to promote security and participate in activities like the Non-Profit Security Grant Program. For example, several offices across DHS and the Department of Justice co-hosted a national webinar called “Protecting Places of Worship: Fall Religious Observance Security Briefing.” More than 3,400 people registered for the webinar and will receive copies of the recording. 

  • The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency at DHS has expanded outreach and security capacity-building services to historically targeted communities, such as houses of worship, community centers, and private parochial schools, including Jewish day schools. 

  • During the Protecting Places of Worship (PPOW) National Weeks of Action (Sept. 18 – Sept. 29), CISA, in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, DHS Office of Partnerships and Engagement, DHS Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships, DHS’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Justice and others is providing a series of webinars/workshops that assist places of worship in securing physical spaces and their community. 

  • Secretary Mayorkas participated in a White House Protecting Places of Worship Roundtable featuring a CISA Faith-Based Facilitated Tabletop Exercise held at the White House in cooperation with the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and DHS Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, on Sept. 28 with 60-75 faith-based and community organizations represented. This roundtable supports National Preparedness Month, the Protecting Places of Worship Interagency Policy Committee and recommendations from the DHS Faith-Based Security Advisory Council

  • DHS has convened listening sessions in five (5) cities and towns nationwide thus far to better understand evolving threats and the safety and security needs of communities impacted by targeted violence, with an emphasis on underserved communities. Such sessions will help improve accessibility and information-sharing of DHS resources to meet the needs of those impacted by hate-motivated violence. 

As a leading government agency in combating targeted violence, DHS has already taken steps to protect faith-based communities and institutions, and DHS will continue to do so by devoting the resources needed to prevent, detect, and respond to acts of violence driven by violent extremist ideology. To date, the Department has embraced a community-based approach to prevent terrorism, including targeted violence fueled by antisemitism, Islamophobia, and related forms of bias and discrimination, as well as targeted violence. DHS has done so by building trust, partnerships, and collaboration across every level of government, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and the communities we serve while respecting privacy, civil rights and civil liberties. 

Those who believe that they have been discriminated against by a DHS federally program or activity can file a complaint of discrimination with DHS CRCL. To file a complaint, visit /file-civil-rights-complaint. Complaints involving recipients of FEMA funding may also be filed with FEMA OER. To file a complaint with FEMA OER, visit https://www.fema.gov/about/offices/equal-rights/civil-rights#Complaints.  


Last Updated: 09/29/2023
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