Wall Street Journal
By Alejandro Lazo
April 05, 2017
Roberto Beristain walked south over the border into Mexico late Tuesday night, 20 years after he crossed the same boundary into the U.S.
Mr. Beristain, an undocumented immigrant and business owner living in Indiana with his American wife and children, was deported to Mexico despite legal efforts to keep him in the U.S., his attorneys said Wednesday.
Officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said they “turned him over to Mexican authorities” at the border crossing in El Paso, Texas.
Mr. Beristain’s case gained attention as an example of the Trump administration’s enforcement priorities, which include deporting immigrants who may not have committed violent crimes but have violated U.S. immigration law.
Federal immigration authorities had known for years that Mr. Beristain, 43 years old, was in the U.S. illegally, despite a deportation order from 2000. The Obama administration in 2012 granted him permission to stay as long as he checked in with immigration officials and proved he was staying out of trouble.
Under that order of supervision, Mr. Beristain was permitted a Social Security card, work permit and a driver’s license. He paid taxes and had recently purchased Eddie’s Steak Shed in Granger, Ind.. from his sister and brother-in-law, according to his family.
Attorneys for Mr. Beristain had asked an immigration judge to rescind his removal order and to stay his removal. Attorneys had also filed a habeas petition challenging his detention.
But before his cases could be heard by a judge, ICE officials took him from a detention facility in Texas and dropped him off at the U.S.-Mexico border and had him walk across into Juarez, Mexico, his attorneys said in a statement.
“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 attorney advocating for Mr. Beristain’s family. “We were in communication with the government regarding those motions—what they failed to mention was that they were in the process of throwing him out of the country.”
ICE officials didn’t comment beyond confirming Mr. Beristain’s removal.
Mr. Beristain was detained Feb. 6 and transferred to a local jail. His lawyers say he was moved to different detention centers—a not uncommon practice—and at times his family was unsure of his location.
Then, on Tuesday night, immigration officials “suddenly told me it was time to go,” Mr. Beristain said in written statement provided by his attorneys. “They told me to get my stuff, they put me in the back of a van and sped toward the border.”
Mr. Beristain, who has family in Mexico City, is banned for 10 years from entering the U.S., though his attorneys are seeking to significantly reduce that time by seeking waivers and are also continuing to pursue his case in immigration and federal courts, they said.
His family has said that his absence has caused a significant strain on the business and the family. Mr. Ansari, the lawyer, declined to comment about Mr. Beristain’s exact whereabouts on Wednesday evening.
Mr. Beristain drove into the U.S. from Mexico in 1997, to visit an aunt in California, said his wife and stepson.
He moved to Fort Wayne, Ind., where, working at a restaurant as a bus boy, he met the woman who would become his wife, Helen, a Greek immigrant, who was a waitress. The couple have three children together, all born in the U.S., ages 15, 14 and 8.
His wife, a naturalized U.S. citizen, voted for Mr. Trump. A Republican, she agreed with the idea that criminals shouldn’t be in the U.S. illegally, but said she never imagined her husband, who has no criminal record, would be targeted.
Mr. Beristain came to the attention of immigration authorities during a 2000 family trip to Niagara Falls. After Mr. Beristain crossed the border into Canada, he was questioned by U.S. officers on his return, who determined Mr. Beristain was in the U.S. illegally.
For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com