Legacies of British Imperialism in the Contemporary UK Asylum–Welfare Nexus
3. Poor Laws and the Roots of the Modern Asylum–Welfare Nexus
4. Nation-State Sovereignty and the Separation of Welfare and Asylum Policy
4.1. San Francisco
5. Colonial Governance and Contemporary Sanctuary Cities
6. Final Remarks: Reconnecting Asylum Seekers and the Urban Poor
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Conflicts of Interest
I use ‘colonial America’ (or sometimes the thirteen colonies) to refer to the British North America from 1600 to 1776 and ‘British North America’ will refer to those colonies acquired by Britain by treaties in 1713 and 1763 which eventually became the provinces of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario.
Analysis that included Australia and its settler-colonial relations would be a fascinating area for further research.
I am attentive to how different colonial projects unfolded differently, and that ‘the quality and intensity of racism vary enormously in different colonial contexts and at different historical moments in any particular colonial encounter’ (Stoler 1989, pp. 137–38). The circulations between colony and metropole were complex and diversified and relations that need to be explored rather than assumed.
Well-documented systems of extermination, forced movement and enslavement abounded from the foundation of colonial America. As Baseler notes, ‘when the native Irish proved intractable, England embarked on a massive program of removal replacement … When similar problems emerged in America, the same devices of removal and transplantation were adopted’ (1998, p. 35). Legal principles of extermination, deportation and containment circulated between Britain and its colonies in Ireland, colonial America and British North America in a shared Anglophone moral universe (Hirota 2016, p. 187; Baseler 1998, pp. 25–27, 161–62). See Saunt (2020) for indigenous extermination and Winks (2008) for slavery in Canada.
Poor laws were evident in New England and the South (including Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Virginia) beginning in 1683. They authorised local officials to send transient beggars to other colonies or to ‘the country from whence they came’ (Hirota 2016, p. 43).
The early discussion of tax-financed social assistance based on the Poor Law tradition throughout the British Empire pushed the colonies toward tax-financed social protection, an institutional legacy that has carried into contemporary times.
By the middle of the 18th century, openings for urban citizenship had disappeared for ‘Indians, free blacks, mulattos, white servants and apprentices and those without a fixed abode’ (Prak 2018, p. 292). By the start of the American Revolution, citizenship was a whites-only institution in colonial America.
For a review of the relationship between population, territory and wealth in California from the 1848 Gold Rush see (Smith 2013). Migrations from the United States, Mexico, Chile, Peru, China and Hawai’i each brought regional and temporally distinct forms of wage labour, slavery, contract labour, debt bondage, peonage and indentured servitude.
The Chinese Exclusion cases and specifically Fong Yue Ting were founded in the plenary power doctrine that had been established in the justification for expelling Indigenous people from their land (see Kanstroom 2007, pp. 64–67, 95–107). The dilemma posed by Indian sovereignty related to the source of federal power. This dilemma was resolved through the notion of ‘inherent power’ through the ‘Doctrine of Discovery’, which gave the federal government ‘ultimate title’ over Indian land. This inherent power was also used to invalidate San Francisco ordinances designed to drive Chinese laundries out of business (see Kanstroom 2007, pp. 72–73).
Before 1875, California permitted state commissioners, at their discretion, to exact a bond for certain arriving immigrants. Chy Lung v. Freeman, an 1875 case, the Supreme Court established the notion of federal exclusivity in the field of immigration, 92 U.S. 275, 277 (1875).
Notable initiatives include the Sheffield Society for Constitutional Information inspired by Thomas Paine; the Sheffield Political Union for universal suffrage (1830); Trade Unions (from 1824) and anti-slavery movements (from 1825).
From 1747, the Culters’ Company actively began encouraging ‘foreigners’ (defined as anyone residing outside Hallamshire) to Sheffield through newspaper advertisements. Labour recruited from London, Birmingham, York and Newcastle, caused resentment from the locally based workforce who called on the Company to protect them through tighter regulation of entry into their occupations. Local workers lost their battle in 1814 when Parliament removed all legal powers of regulation from the Cutlers’ Company.
Change.org Petition ‘Keep Victor Mujakachi safe’ Available at: https://www.change.org/p/home-office-keep-victor-mujakachi-safe, accessed on 20 January 2022.
Also evident across the three countries are the actions of relief providers who did sometimes use citizenship, legal status or the perception that one was a foreigner to justify expelling those who requested relief based on racialized assumptions indicating the gap between policy and practice is longstanding (Fox 2012; Damer 2000; Ravetz 2003; Frost 2011).
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Humphris, R. Legacies of British Imperialism in the Contemporary UK Asylum–Welfare Nexus. Soc. Sci. 2022, 11, 432. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci11100432
Humphris R. Legacies of British Imperialism in the Contemporary UK Asylum–Welfare Nexus. Social Sciences. 2022; 11(10):432. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci11100432Chicago/Turabian Style
Humphris, Rachel. 2022. "Legacies of British Imperialism in the Contemporary UK Asylum–Welfare Nexus" Social Sciences 11, no. 10: 432. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci11100432