East of Salinas (2015)
Jose is a third grader at Sherwood School who was born in Mexico and now lives in Salinas, California. He's one of the two million undocumented children who live in the United States. Jose speaks perfect English, he works hard, and he loves math. His mother Maria came to the United States 13 years ago, and admits, "I didn't know it would be so hard." In addition to caring for three children, she gets up every morning at 3 AM, drops Jose off at the baby sitter way before school begins, and then works in the Salinas lettuce fields for 10-12 hours a day. Her husband Jaime does the same thing, although in his case, like about half the parents of Jose's classmates, he's a migrant worker who follows the seasonal harvests from place to place (in his case, Yuma, AZ). Lucky for Jose, he has a super star teacher named Oscar Ramos, who himself grew up working in the fields. Oscar graduated from UC Berkeley, and now takes a lovingly paternalistic interest in his students: "None of us forget where we came from." At the end of this PBS documentary, you wonder what will become of Jose. He attends three different schools in a single year. As an undocumented person he cannot apply for college financial aid or legally work for an employer. "Sometimes it seems impossibly difficult," says his mother.