The siblings Rosa and Enrique cannot be strictly called emigrants or refugees because of the rather peculiar nature of their emigration. They are emigrants because they wish to have a better life far away from their village where they were peasant farmers. They possibly may be called refugees because they had to leave their village to spare their lives. For the sake of proper designation by the authorities, they could be called refugees as they are more that than just emigrants..
Their journey to the north was fraught with difficulties at every turn. At first they met with a coyote Jaime, who appeared to be kind to them and actually took them across the border only to try to rob them when he thought their guard was down. They were apprehended by the border authorities and were sent back to Tijuana where they failed to convince authorities that they were Mexicans. On getting to Tijuana, they had no source of income and Rosa had to resort to stealing in order to feed herself.
Eventually they met the coyote who was able to take them to the US, they had to sell their mothers chain which probably was the last thing they had to remind them of her and symbolically they parted with the last thing that linked them with their village. To get to the US, they had to go through a sewer pipe that was rat infested in almost total darkness for hours on end that was a horrible experience. It was not all bad anyway, not long after they left their village they tried to stow inside a truck, and the friendly driver asked them to join him in front on the drive to Oaxaca.
Besides, he gave them a crash course for being Mexicans or at least coming of as ones. That proved to be a very valuable lesson later on. They met one person who helped them to rent out an apartment when they got to California, and the same person presented Enrique a job offer in Chicago. At the same time, Rosa met a nice lady Nacha who helped her by giving advice and the basic notions about the life in the US as an undocumented immigrant. In order not to have great problems they began taking English classes and proved to be good students, they were hard orking and did not expect that anything could happen to them. This movie evokes sympathetic feelings to undocumented emigrants, having been given a behind the scenes look into their stories. Granted that all of them might not have such dramatic stories in their lives, it is worth noting that in spite of the legality or otherwise of their status under it all, they are just regular people with hopes dreams and aspirations who just pursue a better life or who are actually running away from a real imminent threat to their lives.
And this situation they find themselves in puts them in a very vulnerable state where they can be exploited and victimized by people who have real or imagined issues with their stay in the US. Watching this movie has softened my opinion of immigrants. They may not have the correct documentation, but they deserve a chance to improve their lives.