Discussion Guide

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In contrast to the partisan politics and mainstream media’s “talking point” approach to immigration issues, Sin País (Without Country) tells the emotional story of a deporta- tion’s impact on one family. The film begins two weeks be- fore two teens — Gilbert and Helen — are forcibly separated from their parents.

In 1992, Sam and Elida Mejia left Guatemala during a violent civil war and brought their 1-year-old son, Gilbert, to California. The Mejias settled in the Bay Area, and for the past 17 years they have worked multiple jobs to support their family, paid their taxes and saved enough to buy a home. In California, they had two more children, Helen and Dulce, who are both U.S. citizens. Two years ago, immigration agents stormed the Mejias’ house looking for someone who didn’t live there. Sam, Elida and Gilbert were all undocumented and became deeply entangled in the U.S. immigration system.

After a passionate fight to keep the family together, Sam and Elida were deported and took Dulce with them back to Guatemala, while Gilbert and Helen remained in the only country they have known as home.

With intimate access and striking imagery, Sin País explores the complexities of the Mejias’ new reality as a separated family — parents without their children, and children without their parents. The film’s short length (20 minutes) makes it an excellent springboard for discussions, not only about immigration policy and the future of families like the Mejias, but also about the nature of American democracy and the practical meaning of the American dream.

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