The film Sin Visa, produced by San Jose-based Zarco Films begins with a group of undocumented immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, led by a “coyote,” or human trafficker. Their journey is arduous and dangerous. They evade the Minutemen -- self-appointed immigration authorities -- patrolling the area. The group treks through the desert, passing a row of crosses marking the graves of unknown people who have died making the same journey. Once inside the U.S., they are taken to a safe house that is anything but safe, and Marco’s story unfolds.
Marco, played by Edgar-Arturo Camacho-González, makes it north to San Jose, where he works in restaurants and sends money home. He attends a fictitious community college with the help of a sympathetic college counselor, gay and Arab, who becomes his friend. Sin Visa lets the viewer experience the day-to-day life of someone living without documents. This means not getting paid proper wages by an employer, renting a room in a house with no privacy and feeling both anxious and vulnerable when questioned by police at a traffic stop.
Through the college counselor, played by Luis Valencia, Sin Visa connects the U.S.-Mexico border to another separation barrier -- the one between Palestine and Israel. The film weaves together layers of human rights issues by centering the narrative on a gay Arab immigrant living in post-9/11 America who befriends and helps a young, undocumented Latino man.
This story is close to home for Camacho-González. “My family has an open immigration case, and there has been deportation in my family,” he says. Camacho-González was born in San Jose, where most of Sin Visa was filmed, but he didn't have to look far for inspiration. Camacho-González crossed the border illegally himself as a child, years ago. “The irony is that even though I have documents, having been born in the United States, because I was with my family and they did not, I did the crossing along with them,” he says.