stories: Between Field and Family
Mario Elias Gervacio doesn't mind working from sunrise past sunset in the humid tobacco fields of the South. Fortunately for him, most Americans do.
A federal guest worker program, H-2A, taps the enormous pool of workers outside of the country to fill those gaps with legal, temporary agricultural workers. In his five years as an H-2A worker, Gervacio has worked exclusively for tobacco farmer Robert Lewis in Gibsonville, N.C.
Congress continues to struggle with legislation that would refine guest worker programs, and the topic is a hot issue with presidential hopefuls of both parties. Gervacio knows what this type of program can do.
In Mexico, he lives in a two-bedroom brick home he financed with his H-2A earnings. After seven months of six-day work weeks in N.C., his days are spent leisurely as a stay-at-home dad. He sees it as his payoff. "My time spent with my wife and daughters, living with them, finding out what they think - that is the best part of life," he says.