Student Blogger - #13Amend Live Blog: Slave Labor and Immigrant Labor
Professor Gerald Neuman, in his article The Lost Century of American Immigration Law (1776-1875), referred to slavery as our first immigration system. Professor Maria Ontiveros identified the connections between slavery and our current treatment of immigrant workers, particularly guest workers and undocumented workers. One primary similarity is the inability to quit working. Guest-worker visas tie the worker to a single employer; if the worker quits or is fired, she will be deported, which is a strong disincentive to report rights abuses. Undocumented workers are subject to deportation if discovered, which again disincentivizes the worker from reporting abuses. These abuses by employers with the knowledge that they are unlikely to be reported could be considered "involuntary servitude." Other similarities include the separation of the worker from the greater body of society and the lack of access to the courts to vindicate rights. These connections reveal current "badges and incidents of slavery."