Things That Matter

New Podcast ‘Out of the Shadows’ Re-Examines Ronald Reagan as an Unlikely Ally to Latinos

The legacy of former President Ronald Reagan is entirely dependent on who you ask.

To conservatives, Reagan is nothing short of a hero, one who revitalized the Republican Party and the American economy during his time in office. To Latinos, he resembles something closer to a boogeyman, a politician whose policies and positions have done irreparable damage to generations of Latin American families living in the United States.

A new podcast, “Out of the Shadows: Children of 86,” takes that legacy to task and spotlights Reagan as an unexpected ally to a specific group of Latinx immigrants. Namely, the three million people who were granted amnesty by the signing of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, or IRCA as it’s colloquially known.

Hosted by Patty Rodriguez, most well-known as the Senior Producer for iHeartRadio’s “On Air With Ryan Seacrest,” and award-winning New York Times writer Erick Galindo, “Out of the Shadows” re-examines a generation of children who were able to build their own communities in the U.S. thanks to, of all people, President Ronald Reagan.

A description of “Out of the Shadows,” courtesy of iHeartRadio, tells us:

“Immigrants and their children have long lived in the shadows of America, their destinies aren’t just shaped by where they come from but by their particular place in history. In 1986, the lives of millions of immigrants and their children were changed by one lucky stroke of a pen by an unlikely ally, President Ronald Reagan. This podcast will examine the ripple effects the bill had on first-generation kids of immigrants who are navigating intergenerational mobility and transforming the cultural landscape. This is an untold story of luck, timing, triumph, opportunity, survival, and of course, hope.”

The inaugural episode opens with an ode to Los Angeles’ Boulevard Market, a community space where Latinos have congregated, connected, and sold food since IRCA welcomed them in the mid-1980s. “It’s a reminder of how far we’ve come,” says host Patty Rodriguez, “That we can have spaces that are built by us… and for us.”

The episode then dives into the history of the IRCA signing: how it gave 3 million people amnesty, how it was the first legislation of its kind in U.S. history, and how it only applied to immigrants who’d been living in the country since 1982. At one point in the episode, co-host Erick Galido says, “IRCA is like an MC Escher painting: what you see in it may depend on your reality.” 

For the uninitiated, it’s hard to overstate just how instrumental IRCA was in establishing a Latin American population in the U.S. that had political and cultural staying power. In the 21st century, it’s almost impossible to think about a version of the U.S. that isn’t hugely influenced by Latin America. Among many other historical conditions and influential pieces of legislation, IRCA rises above the rest as perhaps the single most important one.

The first season of “Out of the Shadows” promises to shed more light on why and how that came to be, and what — if anything — the Latino community owes to President Reagan, and his decision to sign IRCA into law.

Listen to “Out of the Shadows” now on iHeartRadio, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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