Despite deep historical ties between Nicaragua and the United States, significant Nicaraguan immigration did not begin until after the start of the Sandinista revolution of the 1970’s. Since then, Nicaraguans have become one of the largest groups of Central American immigrants and have made their presence especially felt in South Florida and Southern California.
Ties between the United States and Nicaragua have historically been marked by U.S. political, economic, and military intervention in the Central American nation. In 1909, for example, the U.S. government supported a revolution that replaced a liberal military ruler with a conservative regime. Afterward, the United States maintained a military presence in the country until 1933, when it defeated an uprising by rebel leader
Early immigration from Nicaragua to the United States was facilitated by the country’s political and economic dependency on the United States. Like other Central Americans, some of the earliest Nicaraguans who came to the United States were industrialists and workers associated with the nation’s coffee industry who began going to
During the 1930’s, Nicaragua’s repressive Somoza regime drove large numbers of people to flee the country. Many of these people settled in
According to data from the U.S. Census, some 28,620 Nicaraguans were living in the United States in 1970. Many had immigrated after passage of the federal Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which significantly loosened U.S. immigration rules. Interestingly, most Nicaraguan immigrants during the late 1960’s were women.
By 1979, Nicaragua’s Somoza regime had alienated most of its political base and was toppled by a leftist guerrilla organization, the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). The Sandinistas’ unsteady assumption of power over the next decade triggered the largest exodus of Nicaraguans in the country’s history.
The Sandinista revolution spurred three waves of Nicaraguan immigration to the United States. The first took place during the time of the revolution, when perhaps 20,000 members of wealthy families closely associated with the Somoza regime fled to
The second wave occurred during the early 1980’s. It brought many non-Sandinista members of the new government coalition, along with business people and professionals whose companies had been seized by the state or who found it increasingly difficult to maintain their lifestyle within the constraints of the socialist-leaning government.
Meanwhile, because of the Sandinista government’s efforts to sever Nicaragua’s dependence on the United States and
By the time of the 1990 U.S. Census, the three recent waves of Nicaraguan immigration had brought into the United States 202,658 documented immigrants and an unknown but probably substantial number of undocumented immigrants. The bulk of these people settled in
Nicaraguans fleeing the Sandinista regime did not receive automatic refugee status or
The exodus from Nicaragua continued during the 1990’s and into the early twenty-first century because of the country’s shattered economy and social conditions. Meanwhile, Nicaraguans have become part of the flood of undocumented immigrants coming to the United States. Most have settled in the well-established Nicaraguan communities of Southern
Bucuvalas, Tina. South Florida Folklife. Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 1994. One of the chapters in this book provides an overview of Nicaraguan immigration to Miami and traditions maintained by this community. Fernández-Kelly, Patricia, and Sara Curran. “Nicaraguans: Voices Lost, Voices Found.” In Ethnicities: Children of Immigrants in America, edited by Rubén Rumbaut and Alejandro Portes. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001. Essay detailing the impact of settling in the United States on the children of Nicaraguan immigrants. Menjívar, Cecilia. “Salvadorans and Nicaraguans: Refugees Become Workers.” In Illegal Immigration in America, edited by David Haines and Karen Rosenblum. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1999. Account of the struggles of Nicaraguans fleeing the Sandinista conflict to attain legal status in the United States. Solaún, Mauricio. U.S. Intervention and Regime Change in Nicaragua. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005. Well-organized historical account of U.S intervention in Nicaraguan politics and its impact. Walker, Thomas. Nicaragua: Living in the Shadow of the Eagle. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 2003. History of the Nicaraguan nation and its ties with the United States.
Latin American immigrants
Latinos and immigrants