A Mexican immigrant who had lived in the U.S. for almost two decades was suddenly deported on Tuesday night. His American-born wife was a Donald Trump supporter who previously said she voted for Trump in the belief that he wouldn’t deport the “good people.”
After being detained during a routine check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials on Feb. 6, Roberto Beristain, 43, was shuttled between detention centers in six states for two months before being deported to Juarez, Mexico.
“They suddenly told me it was time to go,” Beristain said in a statement from his legal team. “They told me to get my stuff, they put me in the back of a van, and sped toward the border.”
He continued: “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 10:00 pm, I was dropped off at the Mexico-U.S. Border and walked into Mexico.”
Beristain entered the country to visit a relative in 1998 but opted to remain in the country, BuzzFeed News reported. He married an American citizen, Helen Beristain, and was able to obtain a social security card, driver’s license, and work permit, according to his family.
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.
He was enough of an upstanding citizen that his wife told Indiana Public Media earlier this month that she voted for Trump because she supports his hard-line immigration policies but never imagined her husband would fall victim.
“[Trump] did say the good people would not be deported, the good people would be checked,” she said.