“Remember, it isn’t okay to tell lies to anyone unless you are saving another person’s life.”

In 1982, savvy society housewife Carla Pedersen, Democratic activist and co-founder of the Sanctuary Movement, began using her glamour, her yellow van, and her young sons as smokescreens to smuggle refugees over the U.S. border — refugees fleeing torture and murder in Central America.  Dozens, if not hundreds of undocumented immigrants were sheltered in their suburban Tucson home, in direct violation of the law.

In this documentary, Carla’s oldest son speaks with Salvadoran and Guatemalan death squad survivors, and with the other leaders of the Sanctuary movement, who operated a human smuggling network across family station wagons, church basements and middle class living rooms to save thousands of lives.

Filtered through the lens of home movies, Frontline specials, childhood diaries and excerpts from Carla’s memoir, “A Coyote’s Tale,”  comes a portrait about growing up with a revolution in the living room.


“In a sing-song voice he said, ‘I think we’re doing something illeeeegalllllll!'”

This site is for people who want to share information about the Central American refugees who fled from death squads in the 1980s, and the members of the Sanctuary Movement who took great legal risk to help them, and for sharing resources to help tell their stories.

Bookmark this page, and look for more information on how to help… coming soon!

A Coyote’s Tale

Check back for select excerpts from Carla’s memoir of the Sanctuary Movement, of family life, and the complex ways that they intertwined.

“A few days later Tim called and asked if we would have room for a few more refugees”

Email  production@coyotestale.com to share information and other resources to help this film get made.