Multimedia Collection

The Guestworker

53 min
HD8083 .N8 G8 2006 DVD

When President Bush and some members of Congress recently proposed guest worker programs as part of new immigration reform legislation, it was as though nothing like this had existed before. Yet since 1986, thousands of Mexican men have legally entered the United States to work here, because of the little known H-2A guestworker program, put in effect during the Reagan years. Filmed on both sides of the border, the documentary chronicles the life of such farm-workers while looking at the issues surrounding the program.

The film focuses on a 66-year-old Mexican farmer, Candelario Moreno Gonzales, who works on the tobacco, cucumber and pepper fields of the Wester Farms in North Carolina. He has made this annual trip for forty years, initially as an undocumented immigrant for which he was jailed three times. Now too old to risk illegal crossings, he has paid as much as a thousand dollars for his bus fare and other costs of participating in the program. Although he is twenty years older than most of his fellow workers, he puts in the same grueling hours with no hope of citizenship and the benefits that go along with it. The film also shows the troubles of his employer, Len Wester, who may lose his farm because of drought. Wester, like many U.S. farmers, is dependent on foreign farm laborers to sustain his farm.

Candelario loves his home and family but the deteriorating condition of Mexico's rural economy leave him little choice but to continue his yearly trek. As he says "I need to go as long as I can work. I'm old. The work has worn me down and made me tired. My family needs me at home in Mexico, but I need to be here too.

In Spanish and English with English subtitles.

Distributed by Filmakers Library.

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