How Christmas trees are planted, grown and shipped is a fascinating process in itself. But at a North Carolina tree farm, the real story is how it gets its workers.
The White House has relied on this area many times for its Christmas tree. It is a beautiful region of North Carolina where fir and spruce trees endlessly grow along the state’s rolling hills. The farm is busy for months caring for its trees, awaiting for the Christmas season when it cuts them down, bundles them up and ships them out.
The tree farm, however, can’t rely on U.S. workers around Christmas time. Often, manual labor employers in the U.S. turn to undocumented workers from Mexico. But this farm didn’t do that. Instead, it turned to a guest worker program in which they got employees directly from Mexico.
TIME talked with some of the guest workers a couple years back about how they cope with traveling to the U.S. to work at the farm, and what they do during the summer months away from the holiday season. Watch the video here.
(Read TIME’s story about the DREAM Act, which would have allowed a path to citizenship for young illegal immigrants. The U.S. Senate failed to pass the measure.)