Colombian Hit "Paraiso Travel" Shows the Underside of Immigrant’s American Dream

By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor
Angélica Blandón and Aldemar Correa star in Paraíso Travel.

Angélica Blandón and Aldemar Correa star in Paraíso Travel.

Tired of waiting for advances on immigration reform to occur? Want to take the pressure off from considering the pros and cons of e-Verify, 287 (g), the border fence, Real ID, and legalization of the undocumented?

If you’re in New York, Los Angeles and a limited number of other cities, you can head to the movies this weekend to distract your mind –well, not really– for a couple of hours with a tale of undocumented immigrants who reach the U.S. in a harrowing trip through Central America and then get separated after arriving in Queens.

Telling the story of Marlon and Reina, a Colombian couple who migrate together to New York, Paraíso Travel was a huge hit in Colombia last year. The film won praise and awards at festivals in the U.S. and Europe.

The movie narrates the long trip immigrants from many nations have undertaken in recent years through Panama, Guatemala and Mexico to reach the U.S., in which what a travel agent describes as the “river leg” of the journey is actually a dangerous, illegal river crossing into Mexico.

But it’s once in the U.S. that the problems really start, with Marlon going through the initiation step of cleaning toilets as he searches for Reina, from whom he became separated on arrival.

The movie stars Colombians Angélica Blandón and Aldemar Correa, with American John Leguizamo, who has Colombian roots, and Mexican actress Ana de la Reguera in the cast.

Paraíso… doesn’t stop to consider any of the political implications of illegal immigration, Jeannette Catsoulis of The New York Times wrote:

Paraíso Travel faces the complexities of its subject with neither agenda nor solution, suggesting only that for some, a new life may shine brighter in anticipation than in reality.

Still, TIME magazine’s Tim Padgett wrote, some of the movie’s scenes should be watched “by any American who has ever hired illegal immigrants —and, for that matter, any American who has ever shouted for their deportation.”

“…Immigration cranks like Lou Dobbs, but also the immigration advocates he lambastes, would do well to stop the cable cacophony for a couple hours and see this movie when it hits U.S. screens.”

Lou Dobbs and any interested immigration advocates can watch Paraíso Travel this weekend in New York, Los Angeles and Plainfield and Union City, N.J. Additional showtimes for Washington Heights and Jackson Heights in New York are posted on the movie’s website.

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