Can a Guest Worker Program Work?

The new immigration bill aims to revamp the guest worker program. A look at North Carolina shows what needs fixing

Samantha Appleton for TIME

Mexican tobacco workers wait for their assignments at the Vass, N.C. headquarters of the North Carolina Growers Association.

Here, in a retrofitted hangar in the heart of tobacco country, is an early glimpse of what life could be like if the recent Senate compromise on immigration passes. Two busloads of tobacco workers, fresh from the Mexican state of Nayarít, are met and ministered to by a cadre of social and health workers, a federal agent from the Department of Labor, even a union organizer. In all, they spend almost four hours filling out paperwork, watching movies about how to avoid pesticide sickness and getting a set of no-nonsense rules (if you fight, you're fired; don't use the fire extinguisher...

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