After being detained for almost exactly two months, ICE has deported undocumented immigrant Roberto Beristain, an Indiana restaurant owner who has lived in the US for 20 years without incident. Ironically, Beristain is married to a Trump supporter, Helen Beristain, who herself was a former undocumented immigrant from Greece.
“They suddenly told me it was time to go,” Roberto said, according to a joint press release from the attorneys working pro bono on his case. “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 p.m., I was dropped off at the Mexico-US border and walked into Mexico.”
ICE confirmed to CNN that Roberto was handed over to Mexican authorities at El Paso, Texas on April 4 and then deported to Ciudad Juarez.
In his apocalyptic immigration speech in August of last year, Trump put a target on sanctuary cities, vowed the expansion of ICE to round up and deport undocumented immigrants, maintained his proposal for building a wall at the Mexican border, and promised that “anyone who illegally crosses the border will be detained until they are removed out of our country.” As president, his administration has carried out on nearly all of these promises.
“I think our President is going to keep all the good people here,” Helen told WSBT in March, after her husband was detained. “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 recalled that Roberto worried that Trump was “going to get rid of the Mexicans,” but Helen dismissed it, saying he’ll only go after the “bad hombres.”
Now, she says she regrets her vote. “I wish I didn’t vote at all,” she told the South Bend Tribune in March. “I did it for the economy. We needed a change.”
Roberto had been checking in with ICE annually since 2000, when he was given a voluntary deportation order in New York after the family took a wrong turn and drove into Canada on a vacation to Niagara Falls. Since then, ICE agents helped him obtain a work permit, driver’s license, and DHS-authorized Social Security number. But at his most recent check-in, he was detained.
Roberto’s lawyers argue that he was denied due process in 2000, and had been arguing for a stay to prevent deportation. According to CNN, they will file a new motion requesting that he be allowed to return to the US. “This was an attempt to short-circuit the justice process by intentionally removing him before a judge could stop his removal,” said Adam Ansari, a Chicago-based attorney who organized the lawyers representing Beristain.
He told CNN that the 44-year-old has no criminal record. “He didn’t even have a parking ticket,” 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.”