Los Angeles, CA – VOCESFrom Here/From There (De Aquí/De Allá)” tells the inspiring story of Luis Cortes Romero, the first undocumented attorney to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. The film follows as Luis – an immigration attorney as well as a DACA recipient – journeys from a difficult youth to the highest court in the land as part of a powerful legal team fighting the  Administration’s attempt to rescind DACA. “From Here/From There (De Aquí/De Allá), produced and directed by Marlene “Mo” Morris, premieres on the PBS series VOCES on Tuesday, July 9, 2024, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET (check local listings) on PBS, PBS.org and the PBS App.   

Luis grew up with his parents and three siblings in Redwood City, California, where he attended a school for gifted students. It wasn’t until he was preparing for a much-anticipated class trip to Europe that he learned that, because he was born in Mexico, he was undocumented and unable to obtain a passport and therefore unable to join his classmates. When his father attempted to legalize his status he was instead picked up by ICE and deported. Luis’s once close-knit family splintered. He went through a bleak period of anger and rebellion, finally emerging thanks to his mother’s loving but firm encouragement and an inspiring Chicano Studies program at San Jose State followed by law school. 

When the Obama administration established DACA – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – in 2012, Luis’s life was transformed. Now he could come out of the shadows, be licensed and practice law. Says Luis, “It took this weight off me that I didn’t realize was so heavy until it was off of me.  I remember thinking, ‘I can’t waste this.’”

He became an immigration lawyer and began helping others like himself. In 2017, when working in his Seattle law office, Luis was asked to take on the case of a racially profiled DACA recipient, Daniel Ramirez, who was arrested and threatened with deportation. Daniel’s story alarmed Luis: “I’m brown, I have DACA, and I have tattoos. That could have been me.” 

Recognizing the arrest could signal that DACA’s shield had been breached, Luis posted an APB to his legal network and quickly connected with renowned civil rights lawyers who helped assemble a powerhouse pro bono legal team to defend Daniel. A few months later, the Trump administration abruptly rescinded DACA, threatening the over 700,000 DACA recipients, including Luis, with exile. The legal team moved quickly, assembling DACA-recipient plaintiffs, and sued the U.S. Government to save the program. 

The case moved to the Supreme Court, where the DACA cause seemed lost given the high court’s increasingly conservative turn. But believing in the rightness and urgency of their cause, the DACA team was undeterred and attracted an unlikely ally, renowned conservative lawyer Ted Olson, who served in the George W. Bush and Reagan administrations. 

In November 2019, Luis made history as the first undocumented lawyer to appear before the nation’s highest court. After oral arguments, the pundits uniformly predicted that DACA was likely headed for defeat.

Months passed. Luis and the other lawyers on the team impatiently checked the SCOTUS docket Monday after frustrating Monday. Finally, early on a June morning in 2020, the news comes – despite the odds, they’ve won. The Supreme Court overturned the Trump administration’s rescinding of DACA.

Despite the victory depicted in the film, the fate of DACA continues to be argued in courts and in Congress, leaving the fates of hundreds of thousands of young people still in limbo. 

 “We’re delighted to kick off our 2024 season of VOCES with ‘From Here/From There (De Aquí/De Allá).’ Luis’s journey is inspiring and the film offers a unique and personal look at this very timely issue,” says VOCES Executive Producer Sandie Viquez Pedlow.

VOCES From Here/From There (De Aquí/De Allá)” will stream simultaneously with broadcast and be available on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS App, available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Samsung Smart TV, Chromecast and VIZIO.


About the Filmmakers

Marlene “Mo” Morris (Producer/Director) is an award-winning documentary filmmaker from Washington State. Her directorial debut feature, A NEW COLOR: The Art of Being Edythe Boone, was broadcast on WORLD Channel’s Emmy and Peabody Award-winning America ReFramed series. Morris directed and produced Tomorrow, We Carry On/Mañana, Seguimos, a film about Dulce Garcia, the lead plaintiff in Dulce Garcia v. Donald J. Trump, part of the landmark DACA Supreme Court case. The film won best short documentary Migrant Voices Challenge at the San Diego Latino Film Festival. Morris’s approach to filmmaking is informed by ten years as an immigration attorney and decades of experience as a mediator and social justice organizer. Morris is a former Bay Area Video Coalition MediaMaker Fellow and winner of the CINE Golden Eagle Award.

Jed Riffe (Producer) is a documentary film director, producer, and multimedia storyteller from Texas. He has produced 15 nationally-broadcast public television specials including the broadcast series California and the American Dream and four interactive media programs. He is best known as the director of the award-winning films Ishi, the Last Yahi; Who Owns the Past?; and California’s “Lost” Tribes, and producer of A Dangerous Idea: Eugenics, Genetics and the American Dream (2017); One Voice: The Story of the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir (2018); The Long Shadow (2020,  Pleistocene Park (2022) and The 9 Lives of Barbara Dane (2023). Riffe also produced Mo Morris’ directorial debut feature, A New Color (2015). Riffe’s films have won 40 major awards and he is a Sundance Documentary Fund Alumni and Gerbode Fellow.

Nicole Solis-Sison (Producer) is a multi-racial DACAmented writer, producer and creative director. Her work focuses on cultural equity, diversity and sustainability in digital discourse across the art, media and film industries. Nicole is a proud founding member of the Undocumented Filmmakers Collective, a nationwide organization that tackles systemic inequities facing undocumented immigrants in the media field. Nicole received her BFA at the University of California, Berkeley. Nicole is a 2022 Define American Fellow, a Sundance Asian American Collab Fellow, and the recipient of the 2016 Eisner Award for the Highest Achievement in the Arts.

Carlos Sandoval (Consulting Producer) is an Emmy-nominated and Sundance award-winning filmmaker whose films include Farmingville (POV), A Class Apart (AMERICAN EXPERIENCE) and The State of Arizona (INDEPENDENT LENS). His work has been informed by his legal training, as well as by his experience on refugee and immigration policy, including as a member of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations. He is currently on faculty at the Columbia University School of Journalism, serves on several film boards, and writes a monthly column recently named “Best in New York” by the New York Newspaper Association. 

About Us
Latino Public Broadcasting is the leader of the development, production, acquisition and distribution of non-commercial educational and cultural media that is representative of Latino people, or addresses issues of particular interest to Latino Americans. These programs are produced for dissemination to the public broadcasting stations and other public telecommunication entities. LPB provides a voice to the diverse Latino community on public media throughout the United States. Latino Public Broadcasting is a registered 501(c)(3), EIN: 95-4776447.
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