America recruited us to open a farm, then made us self-deport

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When I was a toddler, my dad went to an agriculture expo in the Netherlands. Our family farm had no room to expand, so he was interested in learning about opportunities abroad. 

There, a consortium of businesses along the South Dakota-Minnesota border, including a bank and milk plant, recruited my dad to open a dairy farm. There was a farmer shortage, and more cows producing milk in the region would mean better business for everyone. My dad took the leap and moved our family of four to the U.S. on an E2 investor visa, which allows immigrants to start and operate businesses in communities across the country.  

I grew up on our Bellingham, Minnesota, dairy farm. By 6, I’d learned to ride and operate a skid loader, which is a heavy machine we used to fill the feed wagon and move snow. By 7, I was driving a tractor to deliver feed to our cows. When I wasn’t attending school or doing chores, I’d scamper down to the Yellow Bank River with my little brother to fish or play in the mud. 

Hill High Farm in Winchester, Virginia. (The Pumpkin Patch at Hill High Farm,

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