GRANGER, IN –Helen Beristain, a Greek immigrant, voted for Donald Trump in spite of the fact that her husband Roberto is undocumented. She never imagined he would be deported to Mexico after nearly 20 years of living and working in the United States.
The Beristains have three minor children ages8, 14, and 15 years. The couple ownsthe restaurant Eddie’s Steak Shed in Granger, IN. “I don’t think ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) is out there to detain anyone and break families, no,”Beristain told CNN affiliate WSBT in March.
A naturalized U.S. citizen, Beristainworked as a waitress when she met her future husbandin a restaurant in Fort Wayne, as reported by WSBT. A Republican, she said she supported Trump’s position on the deportation of those illegals who have committed crimes, but never imagined that her husband, who has no criminal record, would fall victim to the strict new policy.
The authorities knew since 2000 that Roberto was living illegally in the United States.
In a statement to CNN, ICE saidthat “on April 4, officers with ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) removed Roberto Beristain Cegueda to Mexico via Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. ERO officers turned him over to Mexican authorities at the Paso Del Norte Port of Entry in El Paso, Texas.”
“I was scared because I didn’t know where I was going. I didn’t know what would happen with me. I’ve never been here,” Roberto said in Ciudad Juarez, where he is staying at a shelter for immigrants, as reported by CNN.
“They suddenly told me it was time to go,” 43-year-old Roberto was quoted as saying as reported by the Wall Street Journal and other media outlets. “They told me to get my stuff, they put me in the back of a van and sped toward the border. They took me to another facility while in transport to sign paperwork. I asked to speak with my attorney, but was told there wasn’t time for that. At around 10 PM, I was dropped off at the U.S.-Mexico border and walked into Mexico.”
The U.S.reentry ban is valid for 10 years, despite the efforts of lawyers and their families to prevent deportation.
Beristain told WSBT the couple married in 2001 and eventually settled in the city of Mishawaka. They raised a child together from a previous marriage and then had three more children, all U.S. citizens.“I think our president is going to keep all the good people here. He is not going to tear up families. I don’t think he wants to do that. He just wants to keep us safe,” she told WSBT in March.
Roberto did not seek legal residency through his marriage because he was afraid it would require him to go back to Mexico for some time, Beristain said, WSBT reported.
The current legal issue dates back to a 2000 family vacation to Niagara Falls, NY. The Beristains mistakenly crossed into Canada, when they turned around they were detained by ICE, Ansari said, CNN reported.
“When immigration officials picked him up at that time, they classified him incorrectly,” his attorney Adam M. Ansari said. “If they had classified him correctly, the voluntary departure order wouldn’t have been an option and he could have followed other avenues.”
The incorrect classification led to a voluntary departure order, Beristain entered a legal limbo in which getting a green card proved all but impossible, and in the meantime, he made due with a work permit and a driver’s license, Ansari said, CNN reported.
The National Herald contacted the restaurant and spoke with one of the workers who expressed gratitude for the interest of the newspaper and promised that when she returns to the restaurant, Beristain will respond. TNH also reached out to Ansari and to Tara Tidwell Cullen Communications Director at National Immigrant Justice Center of the Heartland Alliance for comment.