An Indiana man, whose wife voted for President Donald Trump, is facing deportation to Mexico after immigration officials detained him in connection to an incident that happened more than a decade ago, his family said.
Roberto Beristain, 43, lived with his wife Helen and four American-born children in Mishawaka, where he owned and operated the restaurant that had been in his wife’s family for years, his family told reporters.
Though his family said he was a hard-working and contributing member of society, there was just one problem: He was not supposed to be in the United States in the first place.
Beristain was an undocumented immigrant, having come to the U.S. in 1998 to visit an aunt and then staying, the South Bend Tribune wrote.
He then met his wife and started a family, going on to obtain a work permit, Social Security card and driver’s license, the Tribune wrote.
Officials learned of Beristain’s status in 2000 when on vacation at Niagara Falls, he and his wife accidentally crossed the border into Canada.
The couple tried to come back into the U.S., but border patrol agents denied him entry and placed a deportation order on him, his daughter told the New York Daily News.
He was able to post bail and was told to voluntarily leave the U.S. within a month, but Beristain stayed.
“He was very nervous, but he had to stay because my mother was pregnant with my sister,” his daughter said.
For years, Beristain reported for his annual U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement check-in without issue, but in February, he was arrested and detained.
“They said your husband has been detained due to a deportation 16 years ago,” Helen Beristain told WTIU-TV earlier this month. "And, I said, 'That's a joke.' And, they said, 'No, it's true.'"
Helen, who agreed with Trump’s views on immigration, said she didn’t think his policies would come down on her husband.
“We don’t want to have cartels here, you don’t want to have drugs in your high schools, you don’t want killers next to you. You want to feel safe when you leave your house. I truly believe that. And, this is why I voted for Mr. Trump,” she said. “[Trump] did say the good people would not be deported, the good people would be checked.”
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg also rallied behind the man. The self-described conservative penned a column for the Huffington Post about how he and the community felt about seeing Beristain possibly deported.
“Think of the favorite themes of conservatism: hard work, small business ownership, suspicion of overbearing government, and support for family,” Buttigieg wrote. “Each one of those themes is at stake here ― and each is insulted by the prospect of a person like Roberto being ripped away from his business, friends, wife, and children, by a federal agency.”
ICE officials said in a statement that when Beristain failed to depart the United States by that time as required, his voluntary departure order reverted to a final order of removal.
Beristain is in the process of applying for a green card, his wife said, noting she’s hopeful he’ll one day be allowed to return to the U.S.