7 Pages

Children of the Contras

WithRobert S. Kahn

The anti-war movement has actually arrived before the horror has come to the United States: The Refugees have brought it. In November 1986, two days after President Ronald Reagan signed into law the only major immigration bill of his presidency, Reagan's Central American policy began unraveling as details of the Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages deals became public. On November 6, 1986, President Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which made it illegal for undocumented people to work in the United States. The economic embargo of Nicaragua remained in effect, and Meese's Justice Department was still offering work permits and protection from deportation to any Nicaraguan who applied for political asylum in the United States. Thousands of deserters from the Contras, their families, and disaffected or ambitious Nicaraguans fled from Honduras and Nicaragua and headed for the United States.