What this inspirational feature might teach the Donald is that Mexican immigrants also bring young math whizzes with them across the border – in this case a gifted, Mexican-born 8-year-old boy by the name of José Ansaldo. Filmmakers Laura Pacheco and Jackie Mow followed this young son of migrant farmworkers living in the iconic Salinas Valley over the course of three years, documenting his struggles with the instability of life as an undocumented family living on the edge of the economic abyss. Despite his mother and stepfather’s inability to speak English, Ansaldo takes to his studies and demonstrates an extraordinary knack for mathematics, a gift which is nurtured by a well-meaning teacher who also happens to be the son of migrant farmworkers.
JUAN GONZALEZ : Jose Luis Rodriguez, I’d like to ask you about this accelerated development of this movement. There’s a new element here, it seems to me, which is the role of the media, not so much the English-language corporate media, but the Spanish-language media. As I understand it, a lot of the Spanish-language radio disc jockeys were actively promoting the various protests around immigration, even many of the Spanish-language Univision personalities put out a public service ad for the big Saturday march in ., urging people to attend. So there was a real sort of split in the media as the Spanish-language — while the English-language media paid almost no attention or criticized these protests, the Spanish-language media, in effect, helped to promote it.
East of Salinas is a story about immigration, childhood, and circumstance. With little support at home, Salinas, California third grader José Ansaldo often turns to his teacher, Oscar Ramos, once a migrant farm kid himself. Oscar helps José imagine a future beyond the lettuce fields where his parents work. But José was born in Mexico — and he's on the cusp of understanding the implications of that. As we watch this play out, we begin to understand the cruelty of circumstance — for José and many millions of migrant kids like him. East of Salinas asks: What is lost when kids like José are denied opportunities?