Slavery as Immigration?

34 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 2010 Last revised: 6 Dec 2010

Date Written: September 3, 2010


Slavery as Immigration? In this essay, the author argues that transatlantic slavery was, in significant part, an immigration system of a particularly pernicious sort – a system of forced migration immigration aimed at fulfilling the nascent country's needs for a controllable labor population, and desire for a racialized one. As such, the law and policy of chattel slavery should be viewed as perhaps the most important historical antecedent to contemporary immigration law regarding low- and unskilled labor in the United States. Following an analysis of the treatment of chattel slavery in general immigration history scholarship, and in scholarship on the history of immigration law, the author concludes that immigration law texts must include a discussion of chattel slavery that properly locates that system as a forerunner of modern immigration law and policy, and immigration scholars should devote more attention to chattel slavery. She concludes with a discussion of the broader implications of such a reframing for the American national community as a whole.

Suggested Citation

Magee, Rhonda V., Slavery as Immigration? (September 3, 2010). University of San Francisco Law Review, Vol. 44, No. 2, 2009, Univ. of San Francisco Law Research Paper No. 2010-30, Available at SSRN:

Rhonda V. Magee (Contact Author)

University of San Francisco ( email )

2130 Fulton Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
United States
415-422-5055 (Phone)

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