A group of 27 Democratic senators joined a growing nationwide movement to “ban the box” on Tuesday, sending a letter to President Barack Obama asking him to take executive action to prohibit federal contractors and federal agencies from asking job candidates about their criminal records on job applications.

The senators said that the move would expand job opportunities for individuals with criminal records and reduce recidivism.

“[W]e ask you to require federal contractors and agencies to refrain from asking job applicants about prior convictions until later in the hiring process. This policy would eliminate unnecessary barriers to employment for all job seekers and would give individuals re-entering the workforce the opportunity to apply for work based on their current merits rather than past wrong-doings,” the letter says. “Employers would retain the ability to inquire about past convictions or conduct background checks regarding a potential employee before making an employment decision.”

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