WASHINGTON — The Reagan Administration announced today that Nicaraguan exiles, numbering as many as 200,000 nationwide, will be permitted to stay in the United States under a liberalized immigration policy.
Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III signed an order, after consultation with the White House, ensuring that Nicaraguans who have fled to the United States can remain here, the Justice Department said in a statement.
No Nicaraguan with a well-founded fear of persecution from the leftist Sandinista government will be deported unless he has engaged in serious criminal activity or poses a danger to national security, the Justice Department statement said.
There are an estimated 60,000 Nicaraguans in Florida and 90 who are eligible for immediate deportation, immigration officials said. Refugee advocates say as many as 75,000 Nicaraguans have settled in South Florida since the July, 1979, triumph of the Sandinista revolution.