The anguish endured by illegal aliens in California is underlined in this documentary profile of four families living in the shadow of the law. Victor Gomes, a supervisor on a ranch in Escondido, was subjected to deportation twice. Aided by neighbors and concerned government officials, Victor embarked on the tortuous path of fulfilling requirements of the revised 1986 Immigration Law and eventually emerged victorious. Benita Vasquez, a maid in an affluent San Diego suburb, recounts the trauma of being arrested in 1986 when police stopped the bus she was on and demanded papers from all the Hispanics on board. Amalia, an undocumented single mother, supports herself and her handicapped daughter on social security subsidies. Considered a public charge, Amalia is not likely to be approved for residency, and because of this, refuses to apply under the amnesty provisions. Isabel and Jesus have lived in California since 1974, raising two gifted sons who were born in this country. In 1983, attempts to legalize their status ended in failure, jeopardizing their lifestyle and educational opportunities for their children. Taking the complicated amnesty route, the family was finally accepted for permanent residency.