(Alternate film title: "The Migrant")
by Marvin Arnold

A young Mexican girl in her early twenties, Maria, enters the United States illegally with a group of itinerants. The Boarder Patrol chases the van she is in and the van crashes, but Maria escapes into the woods without being apprehended. Maria is determined to do more with her life, to makes something of herself. Maria needs to find work as she plans to send money back to her family in Mexico to repay her father for the money he paid the Coyote who transported her.

The story begins in the North Dallas residential neighborhood of Highland Park near SMU. It is early morning in a wealthy neighborhood and a local disc jockey on the radio is giving the traffic report. A Mexican maid comes storming out of Richardson's house with Elaine following her telling the maid that she is fired. Later, Elaine discovers that her expensive diamond ring is missing. She had unwittingly left it in the pocket of an old sweater. Elaine attends a health spa regularly and has become obsessed with the fact that she is losing her youth. To reassure herself that she is still attractive to younger men, she is having an affair with a young man named Brian.

Brian is a handsome body builder who works at the health spa and is only out for himself. Jason Richardson, Elaine's husband, is a successful businessman. His hobby is restoring old sports cars. Jason is a loner and has only one close friend, a business associate and attorney named Harold Bond. Harold is an older gentleman and was a close friend of Jason's deceased father whom he inherited the business from. Maria's path will soon cross that of Elaine and Jason Richardson a wealthy married couple in their late thirties.

The Richardson's have been married fifteen years after having met and courted at college. They have no children and have now reached a point in their lives where they have nothing in common and have grown apart. Maria makes her way to a farm camp where migrant labors are working in the fields. Maria is a tall lean and hansom woman. She is dressed in a loose white blouse and tight blue jeans. As she walks across the open field, the heat waves rising up (long slow-motion telephoto shot.) The labor boss, a man called Baca (Spanish for the cow). Baca is a brutal and dishonest man.

Detective Lieutenant Ward, a western style policeman, has been waiting for an opportunity to stop Baca's exploitation of Mexican laborers and he comes by the camp often. Lieutenant Ward observes Maria working in the field and turns to see (short pull-back shot) Baca also watching Maria. Romeriez, an older Mexican gentleman, is a truck driver and vegetable vendor who buys produce from the farmers and sells it in the nearby city. The box of old clothes were given to Romeriez who through them in the back of his pickup truck. When he meets Maria that evening at the labor camp, he gives the sweater containing the five- carat diamond ring to her. Later that night Maria discovers it, but believes it to only be a piece of custom jewelry. Romeriez befriends Maria and tries to help her get out from under Baca's control.

In a farmhouse near where the migrant workers camp, lives a young boy named Jamie. He is from a poor, white trash, family background and lives with his aunt. His Aunt Candy is a local prostitute and drug addict. Maria and Jamie become close friends. Jamie identifies with Maria as the young mother that he never knew.

Jason comes home to find Elaine franticly looking for her expensive diamond ring. Elaine accuses the maid, who she fired, of taking the ring. Eventually Jason, after questioning Elaine, determines the last time Elaine had worn the ring she was wearing the sweater that she had discarded with the old clothes she had given Romeriez. A neighbor whom Jason visits with, and who has no use for Elaine, had seen Romeriez pick up the box of old clothes. Jason traces the box of old clothes to the Mexican workers camp.

The following weekend, Jason goes to the migrant workers camp and locates Maria. She has the ring in her pocket for fear Baca might take it from her. She willingly returns the ring to Jason. Baca watches as this takes place. Jason offers Maria a reward, but Maria knowing that Baca would only take it away from her, declines the reward and asks for a job instead. Jason tells Maria that she is hired as their new household maid. Elaine who is waiting by their car protests Maria's hiring when Jason tells her that Maria will be coming to work for them.

There is a delay in Maria's being able to go to her new employment because Baca, who knows that Maria is an illegal alien, threatens to turn her in if she leaves the migrant group. Baca, to get even with Romeriez for helping Maria, damages his vegetable truck. Romeriez reports the incident to Lieutenant Ward who does not like Baca anyway. When Lieutenant Ward comes to he camp, the Mexican workers will not speak up against Baca because they are afraid of him. As Lieutenant Ward starts to leave, Maria runs after him and tells him the truth about Romeriez's truck. She also tells him about the new job she has been offered and asks for his help. Lieutenant Ward explains to her that if she has firm employment in the city, she will be eligible for a green card and is free to go.

The night before Maria leaves to go to her new job, Baca gets drunk and attempts to rape her. In a drunken stupor, Baca tears her blouse and trashes her room in the tent house where she has been living. Maria runs out and goes to Jamie's house where she hides out for the rest of the night. The next day, Romeriez gives her a ride to the Richardson's home. Maria goes to work as a domestic in the Richardson household. Elaine becomes more and more involved with Brian and plans to leave the country with him after emptying Jason's bank account. Unbeknownst to Jason, Elaine has reported the diamond ring as stolen.

She plans to collect the insurance money and blame Maria for the theft. Jason and Elaine discuss a divorce, but Jason is against it, either because of his past love for Elaine or possibly because of his position in the community. The Richardson home is now running very efficiently due to the domestic abilities of Maria. Maria is eager to learn English and everything about the American life-style. Elaine becomes more resentful of Maria's youth and grows jealous of her.

On Sunday afternoon, Jason is working on an old Jaguar XK120 roadster when Maria comes out to the garage. Jason asks Maria if she would like to go for a ride in the sports car as he was about to take it out for a test-drive it. Maria takes off her apron and jumps in the roadster. As they drive, Maria asks if they could go to visit Jamie while they are out for a ride. Jason agrees to Maria's request and meets Jamie for the first time. During the police and insurance investigation over the missing diamond ring, Maria's green card is revoked and she is deported to Mexico.

Elaine forges Jason's name to the insurance settlement check and cashes it. Elaine and Brian execute their plan and leave for a Caribbean Republic with much of Jason's ready capital, the insurance money and all of her expensive jewelry. Harold, who is also Jason's attorney, saw Elaine at the bank and he calls Jason to alert him to what he thinks Elaine is doing. Jason arrives at his home too late and finds only a farewell note left by Elaine. Jason decides that he will not take action against them, but he is unaware that Elaine has the insurance money as well as the five-carat diamond ring that was reported missing. At first, Jason hopes that Elaine will come to her senses and return home.

He hopes to resolve their problems. Living alone, Jason begins to drink too much as he remembers the days of their youth as he looks through some old photos. He thinks back to when they were first married and all the good times that they had together (flash backs to their college days). Jason's thoughts occasionally go to Maria and her eagerness to learn about everything around her. He thinks back to the afternoon that they went for a ride to visit Jamie. Jason feels that an injustice has been done to Maria. He calls his attorney, Harold, to ask him to work on the problem.

He asks Harold to find out what is preventing Maria's return to the States and to fix it. Harold informs Jason about the insurance settlement check and tells him of a recent story printed in a society magazine. In an article about people at a regalia, was a picture of Elaine and Brian who were unnamed guests on a yacht. The large diamond ring, which had been reported as stolen by Elaine, could clearly be seen on her finger in the photograph. The two men discuss the fact that if anyone was to recognize the ring on Elaine's finger, she could be charged with insurance fraud. Harold explains that there was no extradition with that island nation.

Worse, however, the insurance company might send a bounty hunter to kidnap and return Elaine to the States. They would prosecute for sure in that case. Harold, on Jason's behalf, contacts Elaine to try and persuade her to return to the United States and clear herself by dropping the false claim against Maria and return the insurance company's settlement. At the DFW International Airport, Jason has come to pick up Maria, who is returning from Mexico on a newly approved visa. He does not know that Elaine and Brian are returning from the Caribbean at the same time. Elaine and Brian arrive only moments before Maria de-planes from Mexico City. Jason walks by Elaine and Brian in the crowded terminal building as he enters. Both parties pass without noticing each other.

Jason meets Maria who is now dressed more fashionably. Jason and Maria talk as they wait for Maria's luggage. Out front of the terminal, Elaine and Brian are arguing. (TO HAVE, as they have found out, is not always as desirable as TO WANT.) Brian, who has been drinking, grows impatient waiting for a taxicab and takes a rent car that is parked by the curb with the keys left in it. Elaine, still arguing with Brian, jumps in the car with him. It is getting dark and traffic is slow on the freeway. Brian takes an old back road off the airport freeway. Racing at high speed on the back road. The argument between Elaine and Brian continues. Elaine tells Brian that she is through with him and that she is going back to Jason. She is sure that Jason will take her back no matter what she has done. Brian doesn't make the turn where she wants him to and she grabs the wheel. Brian slaps Elaine with the back of his hand. Elaine attacks Brian in a fit of rage and the car goes out of control.

It turns end over end as it hits a drainage ditch and comes to rest in the farm field not far from where Baca's migrant workers are camped. Brian is trapped in the car as it bursts into flames. It is a roaring blaze in the dark night of the farm field. Elaine is thrown clear of the crash, but was killed. Baca is the first person on the scene, having heard the crash. He bends over Elaine's lifeless body. Glancing over his shoulder, he takes the diamond ring off of her suntanned finger.

The flashing lights of two police cars approach (sound of sirens come closer). As Baca begins to walk away, two police cars arrive on the scene. In one of the cars is Lieutenant Ward who sees Baca starting to slip away in the dark. When Baca sees Lieutenant Ward, he breaks into a run, but one of the patrolmen catches him and wrestles him to the ground. The patrolman forces Baca's hand open and finds the diamond ring. Lieutenant Ward notices the suntanned ring mark on Elaine's finger as he inspects the body and orders the patrolman to place Baca under arrest for possession of stolen property.

On the freeway, after leaving the airport, Maria asks Jason to take her by Jamie's house so that she might see him and find out how he has been getting along. Jason notice that Maria seems to be more mature and speaks better English. An ambulance approaches Jason's car from the rear and passes them. Jason remarks that there must have been a bad accident further up the road. Arriving at Jamie's house, they find Jamie's Aunt Candy has been arrested for narcotics possession. Jamie has been living by himself for several days.

Maria asks Jason if they can take Jamie with them and Jason agrees. As they leave, they notice the emergency vehicles off in the farm field, but have no idea that the crash involved Elaine and Brian. Jamie, Maria and Jason pull up in front of the Richardson home. They are facing a new life together and they are home.

Aerial pull away at dusk of a fine residential neighborhood and out over swimming pools in backyards. The lights of downtown Dallas are off in the distance. Flying north out over countryside "Over cities farms and fields…" Woody Guthrie's DEPORTEE (roll full credits over).