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Criminal Records at Home and Abroad in the Trump-Era

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February 16, 2017 Return to News & Events

Criminal Records at Home and Abroad in the Trump-Era

Criminal background records have remained in the headlines for the last several years for a variety of reasons. First, under the Obama Administration, considerable effort took place in reforming the criminal justice system. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released specific “guidance” as to the fair, lawful, and legal use of criminal records as part of the pre-employment hiring process. Secondly, so-called “ban-the-box” legislation swept across the country and became a central part of how criminal records could be reviewed during the hiring process.

Now, with ascension of a new President, criminal records remain in the spotlight but for somewhat different reasons.

Under the authority of the President Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE has been tasked with greater urgency in deporting illegal aliens with criminal records.

From the Washington Examiner (Feb. 12, 17):

Stephen Miller, the president's policy director, said, "the cases that I'm familiar with...have to do with removing criminal aliens, individuals who have criminal charges or convictions against them. And that's what's been taking place all across the country. And the effect of that is going to be saving many American lives, American property and American safety. (1)

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of states: “A criminal record can follow an individual for years and create a challenge for finding employment as well as housing. Certainly, evidence of a criminal record for someone living inside the United States will cause immediate expulsion.”

To date actions by the new administration have been very firm and often a challenging reversal of direction.

Almeida states: “It really is unclear if laws governing the use of Criminal Records will continue to expand or slow. What is certain is that criminal records will remain a critical tool in pre-employment background screening regardless of the headlines they attract.”

At the University of Wisconsin students challenged the potential use of criminal records as part of the admissions process.

From the Wisconsin State Journal (Jan 28, 17)

Members of UW-Madison’s student government on Friday criticized Chancellor Rebecca Blank’s call for officials to revisit their policy of not asking about applicants’ criminal records….Blank called Thursday for the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents to “consider a review” of UW’s applications, which do not allow officials to ask about or consider prospective students’ prior criminal convictions. (2)

It should be noted that other countries utilize criminal records much in the same manner as the United States. For example, Argentina has strengthened criminal records laws as used in immigration.

From Fox News (Jan 31, 17):

Seeking to curb a spike in crime that remains a top concern across the country, the president of Argentina signed a decree that greatly toughens its immigration law to fast-track the deportation process and bar entry to foreigners with criminal records. (3)

Almeida states: “Other countries use criminal records along the same lines as the United States both with employment, immigration and other areas. And just as in the United States, the use of criminal records for any lawful task will remain controversial. A best practice for any company is to utilize a third-party background screening company in order to stay ahead of changes to law and remain in compliance with existing law.”

Rapid changes in law via Executive Order by the current administration should give pause to all HR Departments and hiring managers.

Almeida concludes: “Changes could come fast and with little warning.” is a third-party background screening company that specializes in the use of criminal records. Whether for pre-employment screening or other areas of background screening, has the experience to help companies stay ahead of legislative change as well as continue compliance with existing law.





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