Minnesota farming family fighting to stay in America

The farmer's sons are forced to leave the country when they turn 21.
Publish date:

A family in western Minnesota face being forced to move back to the Netherlands after spending nearly 20 years working on American farmland. 

The Mulder Dairy farm has been a staple in Lac Qui Parle County since 2001, when Kor Mulder and his family emigrated to the U.S. on an EB-5 investor visa, to achieve their dream of owning a dairy farm. 

"They have been here ever since and have created a wonderful life," a petition at Change.org says. "They have many friends, have supported the surrounding communities in many ways, have paid taxes, provided jobs and have been hard working, productive citizens."

Mulder's eldest son was forced to move back to Holland last summer when he turned 21 years old, and his second son, Kelsey, faces the same fate when he turns 21 this summer.

Both were toddlers when their family first moved to the U.S., and this is the only home they've ever known.

"When we turn 21 we're no longer seen as dependents under my dad," Kelsey Mulder said Wednesday in a radio interview on KFGO. "What happened with my brother last summer, he was turning 21 on the 18th of June – just like is going to happen with me this summer is we don't have an option to stay."

"We're still seen as visitors. We have no permanent residency here whatsoever," Kelsey continued. "Year after year we're looking at what are our options. You see people that have been in the country for 4-5 years and they get citizenship, you hear it all the time. We've been here for 18 years and we've spent well over $100,000 just on lawyers trying to figure out options only to come up with nothing."

If Kelsey is forced to leave the country, the farming operation will no longer have the manpower it needs to stay in business, likely forcing Kor Mulder to sell the farm.

"The way it's looking now, Im' out of here early June," Kelsey said in the interview with KFGO. "There's no way that we can get people full-time. I'm working 80-plus hours a week, so there's no way that my dad can run the farm by himself and having a full-time employee just isn't feasible either. 

"So that's the end of Mulder Dairy, I guess." 

Subscribe: Sign up for daily updates with Bring Me The Newsletter

Kelsey says attempts to contact state senators and representatives is often greeted with a similar message: "Yeah, well, talk to a lawyer. We can't do anything. We'll keep you in mind when immigration comes up."

"Nothing's ever came from that," he says. 

Kelsey made it a point to say their family isn't special compared to others facing the same realities in other parts of the country, but Minnesota is all he's known since he was 2 years old.

"This is my home. I don't know anything from the Netherlands," he said. This is my life. This is what I like to do. I enjoy it here, I don't want to leave – I have to." 

The petition at Change.org had more than 7,200 signatures as of 1:15 p.m. Friday. 

Next Up