While the two vitriolic sides in the immigration debate continue to battle over amnesty and sealing the porous Mexican border, there is a third side that DC politicians should check out. They’ll need to visit rural Walla Walla County in the “other” Washington. With over 6000 acres of fruit orchards, farmer Ralph Broetje has a WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) immigration mindset—he knows that when Christian faith and business are combined on a single mission, God shows up.
In the 1980’s when Latino workers came looking for work at his orchard, Ralph Broetje didn’t just hire them; he got to know them. When the season was over, he and his family followed them back to Mexico to find out where they lived and what challenges they faced. That trip changed the lives of the Broetje family and in the thirty years since, it has changed the lives of hundreds of Latino farm workers—as well as thousands of impoverished lives in other countries.
“Treat aliens living among you as native born” (Leviticus 19:33-34)
Ralph Broetje will be the first to point to God for his phenomenal success as one of the largest privately owned apple orchards in the United States. But something revolutionary is happening too—Broetje is re-investing his “first fruits” in people. Farm families are able to build lives here in America. Seeing the need for childcare, Broetje built an on-site daycare. To make it affordable, he subsidizes the cost and workers receive $5000.00 per year to help pay for it. Older children can take advantage of Vista Hermosa Elementary—a school created for the needs of Latino students—offering extended days and year-round school.
Affordable housing with ample yards and nearby playgrounds, welcome those who desire to settle. For seasonal workers, over one hundred immaculate and well-appointed cottages are available. Ralph Broetje and his family include their year-round employees in an annual 5% equal distribution of profits. He generously offers employees and family members computer literacy courses, scholarships, ESL classes, social service outreaches, and youth summer camps.
And then, Broetje Orchards donates 50% of their profits to help those in need around the world. Broetje’s Vista Hermosa Foundation has donated $50 million over the past two decades to help rural and agricultural development, education, and leadership training in developing countries.
Immigration is more than fences and legalese—it’s about real people. Ralph Broetje knows this fully. How? By getting to know the people who’ve come to work in his orchards. He also knows that US farms need these workers. He’s dedicated his life’s work to giving hope and a future to people who deserve the kind of opportunity we’ve enjoyed. And he’s proved that investing in people works. So Congress, why not take a tour of his amazing operation—the vision of one man, his family and a WWJD immigration mindset that’s been abundantly blessed by God.