Episode 15: I Pierced the Toast! – The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 with Agador from The Birdcage

In this episode, Shai and Roderick check out what’s going on in South Beach, Miami. Apart from the clubs, beaches, sports cars, and Mojitos, they discuss what kind of U.S. Immigration regulations could have enabled the loveable character known as Agador, from the 1996 comedy The Birdcage, to achieve legal status in the U.S.

The immigration principles they will explore include key provisions of The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. Plus, our co-hosts reminisce about their own drag club experiences and bring in a special guest for some rapid fire hot takes and to break down the awful and selfish behavior of the characters known as Val and Barbara.

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Show Notes

Welcome to The Hasta La Visa, Baby podcast, a deep-dive into the relationship between U.S. immigration law and fictitious characters from some of your favorite television shows and movies. Hosted by Gibney Immigration group attorneys Shai Dayan and Roderick Potts, each episode focuses on a particular character from a well-known show or film and guides listeners through an in-depth and entertaining exploration into the possible U.S. visa status that the featured character may have held while in the U.S. Listeners will learn about key immigration considerations through the prism of the fun and fictitious worlds presented in television and film.

Today, Shai and Roderick discuss The Birdcage, a 1996 comedy featuring an ensemble cast. The film follows an openly gay couple, Armand and Albert, living in Miami, who attempt to hide their sexuality in order to impress their future conservative in-laws. After sharing interesting facts about the movie, Shai and Roderick shift their focus to the character Agador, a 20-something gay houseworker employed by Armand and Albert. Agador is originally from Guatemala, though his parents immigrated with him to New Jersey so he could have a better life and a career.

We can infer that Agador was brought to the U.S. in the 1970s or 80s due to his age. But, before discussing Agador’s potential visa issues, Shai and Roderick discuss political events in Central America during this time period.

From the 1960’s through the 1990’s, there were numerous civil wars in Central America. In particular, in 1960 Guatemala, a 36-year civil war began as left wing guerrilla groups began battling government military forces. These civil wars were marked by abductions, executions, disappearances and unspeakable violence waged against innocent civilians. Many Guatemalens escaped the country by traveling to Mexico, then crossing the border into the United States. The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986, was signed by President Reagan and granted citizenship to 2.7 million undocumented immigrants. If Agador and his parents migrated to the U.S. prior to January 1st, 1986, they could have been eligible for legalization through IRCA.

In a hypothetical meeting with Agador’s parents, Shai and Roderick would give them the rundown on everything they would need in order to apply for IRCA and hopefully become green card holders and then U.S. citizens.

The episode wraps up as Shai and Roderick are joined by Gibney Case Manager, Adam Menninga for final takeaways and hot takes


Learn more about the movie featured in this episode: The Birdcage.
Learn more about Shai Dayan, Roderick Potts, and Gibney Anthony & Flaherty, LLP.
Connect with us at hastalavisa@gibney.com.
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