Jose and Mr. Ramos: A Top Student Faces Uncertain Future Due to Immigration Status

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Oscar Ramos teaches third grade at Sherwood Elementary School in Salinas. Many of his students are immigrants, children of migrant farmers who work long hours in the field, from sunup to sundown. They live in cramped apartments in neighborhoods plagued by gang violence. Many of them have never been to the beach, even though it’s only 20 minutes away.

Ramos can relate. His parents were also migrant workers who brought him to the United States at a young age.

In the face of his students’ struggles, Ramos gives them access to a world that often seems beyond their reach. He is proof that education can improve their lives and help secure their families’ futures.

Third grade teacher Oscar Ramos works with his former student Jose Ansaldo. (Courtesy ITVS)
Third-grade teacher Oscar Ramos works with his former student Jose Ansaldo. (Courtesy ITVS) (Courtesy ITVS)

But for one of his best students, Ramos' guidance and dedication might not be enough.

Jose Ansaldo is full of energy, smarts and potential. He excels in math despite having moved between seven different schools in three years before ending up in Ramos’ class at Sherwood Elementary several years ago.

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Jose is also undocumented. He was born in Mexico.

Like many migrant children, as Jose grows older he is beginning to understand the situation he faces — and the opportunities that may be lost to him because of his undocumented status.

A new documentary, "East of Salinas," follows Jose and his teacher Mr. Ramos over three years, demonstrating the cruelty of circumstance that touches on the futures of millions of undocumented kids in America.

"East of Salinas," directed by Laura Pacheco and Jackie Mow, airs nationally on PBS' Independent Lens on Monday, Dec. 28, at 10 p.m., and locally on KQED on Monday, Jan. 18, at 10 p.m. The above video is a short version of the full-length documentary.

For more information about the film visit Independent Lens.