The group had to stay silent while traveling through Mexico so they wouldn’t get caught.
Nestor Gomez was only 10 years old when his parents fled Guatemala for the United States. It was 1980 and the civil war in the Central American country was tearing the nation apart. His parents had to make the decision to leave their children behind with family as they worked and saved money in the U.S. They planned to go back to Guatemala to get their children, but the war changed those plans. The violence had increased and they realized it was not safe to go back and live in Guatemala so they decided to bring the children to the U.S. Gomez was 15 years old when his father returned to bring his children to the U.S. They couldn’t wait for visas for the children so the parents only had one option and that was to smuggle the children through Mexico and across the border.
“This was going to be a dangerous undertaking. Not only because at that time I was 15 years old now, but because my middle brother was five years younger than me and my other brother was ten years younger than me. He was just a little baby,” Gomez recalls. “But also because my sister and a friend of hers who was tagging along were both teenagers. As such, they could be victims of sexual assault along the way.”
Gomez’ story is filled with moments of suspense, fear and triumph as the group makes their way to the U.S. An unexpected encounter with Mexican immigration officials and a greedy coyote threaten to sabotage their run for freedom from a grueling civil war. Yet, nothing can stop this group of immigrants from chasing their dreams. The journey tests the children and their father as they discover secrets and hidden plans.
The immigrant experience in the U.S. is a plethora of stories with different endings. One common storyline in the current immigration crisis is the separation of families. A viral video of Twitter is showing the immigrant experience in a touching and hopeful way.
Luis Cortes Romero, a DACA recipient in California according to his Twitter bio, posted a video of his mother being reunited with her parents for the first time in 30 years. The video starts with a woman being asked to come into another room. When she rounds the corner, she stops dead in her tracks as she tries to take int eh scene before her. After 30 years, she finally got to see her parents again.
Romero is an attorney and, according to the tweet, he always vowed to bring his grandparents to the U.S. to see their daughter. The moment was captured on video and you can feel the emotions coming through the screen.
Romero briefly described the challenges he faced while getting his grandparents visas to come to the U.S.
A parent’s love is something so special and unconditional. Despite his grandfather being deaf, mute, and illiterate, his grandparents took trips by bus every time they tried for a visa. It took five tries before the couple finally had their visas approved for a visit to the U.S.
The family even got to celebrate his birthday while he was visiting.
The smile on his mom’s face says it all. Imagine having to go 30 years without seeing your parents because of your choice to immigrate or a better life. So many immigrants sacrifice their families, friends, and everything they know in order to achieve a better life for them and their families. The video shows the emotional toll that the immigration experience can take on a family.
People on social media are showering Romero with so much respect.
The Twitter video shows so much love and family unity. It is an intimate look into a life so many Americans will never know or experience. One of overwhelming joy following decades of unfathomable sadness and separation.
The cries from the children seeing their parents are something so many of us can relate to.
Whether or not you have separated from your parents for decades, it is easy to understand the longing for your parents. There is nothing more comforting than being able to see your parents when something goes wrong. There are so many times as adults that we need to rely on our parents, whether we like to acknowledge it or not.
The separation of families is a moment in American history that we will have to face.
Immigration advocates have called the separation of families at the southern border is damaging. The psychological damage to the children being taken by their parents is devastating.
Award-winning Guatemalan film ‘José’ is about to make its US theatrical premiere in L.A. and New York. But thanks to US travel restrictions, its leading actor Enrique Salenic won’t be allowed to enter the country for the film’s release.
The Guatemalan actor is the star of the award-winning film “José”
“José,” directed by Chinese-born American filmmaker Li Cheng, won multiple awards internationally during the international film festival season in 2018-2019, including the prestigious Queer Lion award at the 75th Venice Film Festival.
Guatemalan actor Enrique Salanic has been blocked from entering the United States ahead of the U.S. premiere of the film in which he is the star.
The fast-rising, U.S.-educated actor earned strong reviews for his lead performance in the Venice 2018 premiere as an impoverished 19-year-old gay man who lives with his mother and falls in love for the first time.
Made in a neorealist cinematic tradition, the film is described in a press release as “a nuanced and vivid look at being gay in Central America.”
‘José’ follows the eponymous character of the film, a closeted 19-year-old who lives an impoverished life with his mother, a street vendor, in Guatemala City. Guatemala, and most of Latin America for that matter, is a place dominated by conservative Catholic and Evangelical Christian religious values. When he meets an attractive migrant from the Caribbean coast, he finds himself falling in love for the first time; the relationship pushes him to rethink his repressed life, and before long he is contemplating a drastic change that will require a leap of faith he is still reluctant to take.
The film premiered in New York on Jan. 31.
And it’s premiered in Los Angeles one week later. Salanic has traveled widely in support of “José,” attending the Lido and festivals in Spain and Panama but the U.S. appears to be a step too far.
The U.S. embassy rejected his visa application twice.
Efforts to bring Salanic to the U.S. have proved fruitless after the U.S. embassy in the Central American country rejected his non-immigrant visa applications. The embassy argued Salanic, who lives with his parents in Guatemala, could be a flight risk were he to enter the U.S. as he does not have a residence in Guatemala.
The premiere should have been a celebratory occasion for the film’s star.
The young newcomer named Enrique Salanic, should be celebrating the great success of his debut appearance. But instead it has become a senseless bureaucratic nightmare, the latest demonstration on the world stage of the current draconian stance on immigration and travel.
The actor’s first application was denied in November.
Salanic’s first visa application was made in November according to Paul Hudson, head of the film’s U.S. distributor, Los Angeles-based Outsider Pictures; the embassy rejected it, arguing that Salanic could be a flight risk if he were to enter the US.
Hudson then sought the aid of Congressman Ted Lieu.
Congressman Lieu, wrote a personal letter on behalf of the young actor which was submitted with a second application. That request was also denied, with no apparent consideration of the congressman’s letter. According to Screen Daily, a copy of the embassy’s original rejection letter states that a requirement of a successful visa application is a residence in a foreign country which the applicant “has no intention of abandoning,” before going on to write, “You have not demonstrated that you have the ties that will compel you to return to your home country after your travel to the United States.”
Hudson, head of the film’s U.S. distributor, had something to say.
“Denying Enrique Salanic his entry visa to promote his work in a film produced, financed and distributed by American citizens and companies represents just one way in which the current administration’s immigration rules impact U.S. businesses, and it perpetuates the negative impression the world has of America. Denying entry to a man who has already successfully studied in the U.S. just because he is from Guatemala is unjust and cruel,” Outsider Pictures’ Paul Hudson told The Wrap.
Robert Rosenberg of Outsider Pictures also had an issue with the rejection of Salanic’s entry visa.
“It broke my heart that such a talented young actor like Enrique, who is the star of our movie, is being thwarted in pursuing his career by our own government in the U.S.,” Rosenberg told The Wrap. “Our policies should encourage this kind of ambition and success, not trap Central Americans in their countries, as if they were less than human.”
In a statement on the creation of the film, director Li Cheng discussed the movie’s cultural relevance.
“‘José’ is really a page ripped from today’s news headlines,” he said. “The crises of young people, single mothers and dark-skinned peoples in Guatemala frames the film’s story. Guatemala has become an increasingly violent and dangerous place, where more than half the people live in poverty. Indeed most of the children separated from their parents and locked in dog-like cages in Texas (shocking people around the world) are Guatemalan, not Mexican, as is often claimed.”