The Film starts with the definition of a tourist visa. “ A Visa is a document issued by the US government that gives the bearer of that document the chance to apply for admission to enter the United States.” Who applies for a tourist visa? Let’s meet a couple, and learn about their story…
We are now introduced to the main characters Ramon and Aurora Chavez who are elderly parents living in Encarnacion de Diaz, Jalisco. We see their daily life, taking care of the ranch, doing chores around the house. Meanwhile we have interviews with Daughters and Sons in the USA that tell details about their parents in Mexico.
Slowly you start to understand they are divided. The parents look at photo albums of their kids in the USA, and talk on the phone with them. Through interviews the viewer discover it has been 16 years since they have seen each other. Why can’t the daughters come to visit? They don’t have their papers in order and it would mean leaving everything, spouse, kids, house, and life because they can’t return if they left. It captures the emotion bottled up inside of immigrant families seen as a daughter explains this with tears in her eyes.
An interesting dynamic is seen as well in the father (Ramon). He doesn’t care much about “the north” and has no interest in staying to live. Often people think that Mexico is a terrible place that everybody is trying to “escape” by getting to the USA. However the only reason they want to come is just to visit family.
To be able to visit their kids, they need a visitors visa, and it is expensive and difficult to get one. In fact, they have tried before, but were unsuccessful in getting all the papers and appointments together. They have been putting it off year after year. But, they are going to finally try, and the film crew is following them to see what happens.
They go through the steps, going all the way to the US consulate in Guadalajara 2 hours away. Meanwhile, we are informed by interviews with Visa Document Specialists and an American US Consulate Officer/interviewer explaining what they do, why applications are not always approved, what they look for, what the interview questions are, etc. Then we hear comments from other Visa Applicants waiting outside as they prepare for their interview.
Finally we come to the phone call scene where the viewer and the daughters don’t know the result of the interview. Remember, it is not a sure thing, and so there is a lot of tension to find out what the result is. The family in Los Angles, CA is eagerly awaiting to hear if the parents were approved for the Visa….. YES!!! they got it!!! Everybody is screaming and hugging from 2,500 miles away. This means soon they will see each other for the first time in 16 years!
Now we follow them on their travels up to California for their tearful reunion. But wait, when crossing the border there is a shooting. A police Lt explains what happened, that a man tried the ram through the border with a stolen vehicle. Yet, finally, they make it through and are wowed by the California Highways and scenery on the way to their daughters’ home.
Then they finally see eachother. The way you hug a daughter after 16 years is different than when you see them everyday. Everyone is so excited, perhaps a little shocked by it all. It is so heartwarming to see them together again after so many years apart and so much effort to get to this point. Being in their 70′s, the parents also enjoy their first time ever in the snow in the Rocky Mountains. A funny visual.