Roberto Beristain, an undocumented immigrant and owner of the popular Granger restaurant Eddie’s Steak Shed, was deported to Mexico Tuesday night after living in the U.S. for almost two decades.
Beristain’s American-born wife, Helen, told CNN she voted for Donald Trump despite his strict stance against immigrants because she believed he would not deport the “good people” and would instead focus on the “bad hombres” with criminal records.
“[Trump] did say the good people would not be deported, the good people would be checked,” she explained to IPM.
“I don’t think ICE [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] is out there to detain anyone and break families, no,” Beristain told WSBT in March, shortly after her husband was detained on Feb. 6 after a routine check-in with ICE officials.
“He hadn’t committed any crimes. He didn’t even have a parking ticket,” family attorney Adam Ansari said. “From everyone’s accounts, he is probably one of the most lovable guys you will ever meet. He is a loving husband and father. And he put a lot of work into his restaurant.”
The 43-year-old was shuttled between detention centers in six states for two months before being deported alone to Ciudad Juarez Tuesday night, reports Buzzfeed.
Beristain was deported despite pleas from both his family and from local government officials, who lauded him as a model citizen who never broke any laws, according to RawStory.
“They suddenly told me it was time to go,” Beristain said. “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 Mexico-U.S. border and walked into Mexico.”
Ansari said he believes that Beristain’s swift removal is an attempt to “short-circuit the judicial system.”
“It all happened very, very quickly, and it’s like immigration services just wanted to get him out of the country so they didn’t have the potential challenge,” Ansari said.
But after a run-in with immigration officials back in 2000, when Beristain was briefly detained by immigration officials at the US-Canadian border after apparently taking a wrong turn during a trip with his wife to Niagara Falls. He was released and given 60 days to leave the country, but because Helen was pregnant at the time, he remained in the country.
Despite the order against him, ICE officials took no action against Beristain for more than a decade. He bought a popular steakhouse in Granger, Indiana and had three children.
Under previous guidelines, Beristain would have been a very low priority for deportation. But since Trump signed an executive order empowering ICE to take action against longstanding US residents without criminal histories, Beristain’s story is becoming sadly familiar.