MINNEAPOLIS — Garion Mulder considers himself an American. After all, he grew up on his dad's western Minnesota dairy farm and graduated from high school in Ortonville.
But his passport says he's a citizen of The Netherlands.
And when when he turned 21 Garion was required to move back to Holland, a place he hadn't lived since he was a small child. After 15 months living in the city of Akkrum, he has returned to Minnesota on a student visa.
"I’m happy to be back for sure!" Garion told KARE at he got off his flight at MSP Airport. "I haven't spoken English to anyone in months!"
Garion's father, Kor Mulder, came to Minnesota on an E-2 Investor Visa nearly two decades ago, to start the dairy farm three hours west of the Twin Cities in Bellingham, MN.
He brought Garion and his younger son, Kelsey, with him. And, as Kor pointed out, the little boys didn't exactly have a choice about coming to America.
But, per immigration rules, dependent children of E-2 visa holders must leave the country when they turn 21. Repeated efforts to put the boys on a path to permanent residency have thus far failed to gain traction.
"It’s just something that we knew had to happen if that time came, which it did," Garion recalled.
"It was a weird feeling being gone from your family. It doesn't make sense to me."
Without his sons, Kor can't keep the farm going.
Garion stayed with an uncle when he first arrived in The Netherlands but got his own apartment after a few months. He got a job installing drainage tiles on other people's farms, but knew he was missed on his own family's farm back in Minnesota.
Now he's back on a student visa while studying dairy technology at Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown, SD. He'll be able to help out on the farm again, too, giving his dad and Kelsey a breather every now and then.
"He’s going to help me out. I’m going to feed the kid. He’ll have a house to live in, to sleep in, and we’ll all make sure he’s going to do his education," Kor Mulder told KARE.
Kelsey turned 21 this summer but has applied for a special worker visa in hopes of getting to stay here, at least temporarily.
"There is still a long road to travel to get what we want, permanent residency," Kor explained.
"All that we do now is temporary, so we basically have to prepare ourselves for another fight."
The long-term prospects of getting to stay are looking better than they did when the year began. There was a huge response to Boyd Huppert's original coverage of the family's predicament in March.
"We were surprised, yes, it blew up!" Garion exclaimed. "It went overseas too. It was on the news over there twice."
Since then the community, even members of Congress, have become involved looking for ways to resolve the situation.
"We were ready to just pack up our bags and go back to Holland, but now the community says we don't think this is right. People said, no, you belong here, you haven't done anything wrong!" Kor remarked.
Garion says he hopes to find a way to stay in the country he considers home.
"Everybody you talk to says it doesn’t make any sense. If those Congress people think the same, they need to maybe come together and try to do something about it."