The United States strongly supports the elimination of racial discrimination at home and abroad. U.S. history reflects lapses, challenges, struggles, and, encouragingly, ongoing progress. We continue to examine ourselves, knowing that we still need to make progress in addressing discrimination and intolerance within our own country, and that it is only through hard work and careful scrutiny that we can push back against intolerance and discrimination both at home and around the world.
This battle continues as we enforce laws within the United States that protect the human rights of all individuals, including members of racial and ethnic minorities. Our laws recognize that promotion and protection of civil rights, non-discrimination, and equal opportunity are fundamental to ensuring universal respect for human rights.
The U.S. Department of Justice enforces some of our nation’s most significant laws in this area – laws that combat discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation and disability, so that our nation can fulfill its promise of true equal opportunity and equal justice. Thematically, we have been working to protect and promote human rights of minority individuals in many areas: law enforcement, housing, education, employment, and political participation.
In the area of law enforcement, in the last three years the United States has filed a record number of law enforcement misconduct and human trafficking cases.
We secured a landmark conviction against five New Orleans police officers involved in shootings of civilians and an extensive cover-up that occurred in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
In housing, in December 2011 the U.S. Government filed its largest residential fair lending settlement in history to resolve allegations that a mortgage company engaged in a widespread pattern or practice of discrimination against qualified African-American and Hispanic borrowers.
In the area of education, we entered into a comprehensive settlement agreement that resolved allegations of severe and pervasive harassment of Asian-American students.
Another area in which we continue to work toward the elimination of racial discrimination is in protecting the right to vote. We are committed to ensuring full participation in our democratic process through enforcement of our voting rights laws.
The right to vote is not only the cornerstone of our system of government – it is the lifeblood of our democracy. And no force has proved more powerful – or more integral to the success of the great American experiment – than efforts to expand the right to vote.
The United States also seeks to strengthen its partnership with other countries in the fight against racial discrimination. We are proud of this effort, including the U.S.-Brazil Joint Action Plan to Eliminate Racial and Ethnic Discrimination and Promote Equality, and a similar Action Plan with Colombia.
Thank you, Madame President