46 Pages


WithRobert S. Kahn

The collapse of the Contra war had pushed a new wave of refugees to the United States, and it brought them in an election year. A Republican campaign slogan was that the Democrats had turned their backs on the Contras. As US-funded warfare in Central America exacerbated the flow of immigrants, the increased Border Patrol pressure on the US-Mexican border played into the hands of corrupt Mexican officials who preyed upon Central American refugees. Illegal immigration from Mexico had decreased after the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, which discouraged Mexican immigration by making it illegal for undocumented people to work in the United States. The politics of immigration became clear on the streets of Brownsville in the winter of 1988-1989: Nicaraguans were allowed to enter the country freely until the election was won. After that Nicaraguans were jailed with everybody else.