Loving Across Borders: Immigration Law And The Limits of Loving

35 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2009 Last revised: 17 Jun 2014

See all articles by Jennifer M. Chacón

Jennifer M. Chacón

UCLA School of Law; University of Oxford - Border Criminologies


Immigration law has been called “segregation’s last stronghold.” Forty years after Loving v. Virginia, the government continues to regulate intimate relationships through immigration law. Examining these contemporary statutes with the same distrust of nativism that the Supreme Court in Loving applied to Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act reveals the ways that barriers to family intimacy posed by current law may continue to perpetuate the racial hierarchies that were targeted in Loving. Part II of this Article briefly reviews some of the ways in which immigration and nationality laws regulated family intimacy in the century preceding the Loving decision. These laws, which expressly countenanced racial quotas and race-based bars to admission and naturalization, operated in tandem with antimiscegenation laws to construct and enforce racial boundaries within the United States. Part III explores contemporary immigration and nationality laws, detailing some of the ways in which formal legal barriers to marriage and intimate family relationships persist under these contemporary laws. Part IV discusses the larger social significance of the legal barriers to intimacy created by immigration and naturalization laws. This Part also illustrates the concrete ways in which the nativism that still undergirds modern immigration and nationality laws frustrates the goal of dismantling state-enforced racial hierarchies. Part V asserts that racial hierarchies cannot be completely eliminated, nor “White Supremacy” completely dismantled, under a constitutional order that too sharply limits its concerns about family to relationships between citizens.

Suggested Citation

Chacón, Jennifer M., Loving Across Borders: Immigration Law And The Limits of Loving. Wisconsin Law Review, Vol. 2007, No. 2, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1474988

Jennifer M. Chacón (Contact Author)

UCLA School of Law ( email )

385 Charles E. Young Drive East
Los Angeles, CA 90095

University of Oxford - Border Criminologies ( email )

Manor Road Building
Manor Rd
Oxford, OX1 3UQ
United Kingdom

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