‘Out of the Shadows’ is a new podcast exploring immigration, IRCA, and Ronald Reagan’s complex legacy

Government May 20, 2022
Out of the Shadows podcast art
Listen to ‘Out of the Shadows’

“Out of the Shadows” tells us that in 1986, immigrants and their children living in the shadows of the United States found an unlikely ally in President Ronald Reagan. That year, he signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (also called IRCA), and millions of undocumented immigrants became permanent residents of the United States of America, paving the way for the generations after them to live and thrive in the country.

It was radical even by today’s standards, and paired with Reagan’s new conservatism, it was also completely unprecedented. This podcast will dive deep into the complicated legacy of Ronald Reagan along with the ripple effect this bill had on generations of people.

Award-winning New York Times writer Erick Galindo and best-selling author Patty Rodriguez host this iHeartPodcasts and My Cultura series. “Out of the Shadows” is a new, multi-chapter series that has been ongoing since April 2022. Episodes are just 30 to 40 minutes long.

You’ll recognize Erick Galindo’s name and extraordinary talent to weave a story from other podcasts he’s hosted like “WILD” and “Ídolo: The Ballad of Chalino Sánchez.” The first episode of the podcast begins with Erick talking about Mexican-American baseball Hall of Famer Fernando Valenzuela. Erick tells us that Ronald Reagan, like the rest of Southern California, adored the Dodgers pitcher.

The only player to win the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year awards in the same season, Fernando visited Reagan in the White House in 1981, and two of the most famous men in America were photographed together during that visit.

Erick tells us that while this picture is unlike any other of Valenzuela, where he stands stiff in a pressed suit, to him it represents hope. In an era when Mexican immigrants around the United States were being rounded up and told they were the problem with the country, it gave people hope that Reagan was truly seeing Valenzuela and his Mexican roots.

While this meeting probably had nothing to do with Reagan’s decision to sign IRCA when it came across his desk in 1986, Erick says, and while many of Reagan’s policies directly negatively impacted many communities, maybe “Fernandomania” did have something to do with it.

Like the many other podcasts Erick hosts, “Out of the Shadows” is an intricately woven story that jumps from year to year. You’ll hear a parodied version of what Erick, Patty, and the creators of “Out of the Shadows” think was going through Reagan’s head when he signed the IRCA bill.

Actually, you’ll hear much from this parodied Reagan about his own legacy. You’ll also hear from people directly impacted by IRCA, those who were given the ability to become American citizens in the blink of an eye.

You will also hear from people who were children of immigrants and now, some of the grandchildren of those given American citizenship by way of IRCA. Hosts Erick and Patty are children of immigrants themselves, and they reflect on what IRCA did for them and their families. They talk about the great migration to the U.S., fueled by the Bracero program and America’s wars. They discuss how IRCA was created by a Democratic Representative from Kentucky and Republican Senator from Wyoming despite its original failure.

As Erick and Patty tell us, this story is one of hope and optimism when there was little to be found, survival, opportunity, timing, and luck. “Out of the Shadows” tells the untold stories of the people who dared immigrate to America when America was not all that nice to them (has much really changed, though?). At yet another pivotal time in the United States’ history, this podcast tells the story of one of its most extraordinary moments.

Listen to ‘Out of the Shadows’

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