Federal immigration officials could begin deporting Roberto Beristain, owner of the popular Eddie's Steak Shed in Granger, as early as Friday, according to his family.
But Beristain’s family is still hoping a federal immigration judge in New York will reopen the case, buying them some time. They’ve gathered more than 600 signatures of support, said his stepson, Phil Kolliopoulos.
And South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg wrote an essay, arguing that the “conservative community” would lose a “model citizen,” that was published online Tuesday on The Huffington Post.
Roberto Beristain, 43, who’s lived in Mishawaka with Helen and three of their children, has been detained since Feb. 6 when he checked in, as he does every year, with officials from the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
Kolliopoulos said Beristain’s attorney in Chicago heard from ICE, then relayed to the family Tuesday that Beristain would be deported Friday.
Tuesday night was the last time the family had spoken with Beristain, Kolliopoulos said. He most recently had been lodged in a county jail in Kenosha, Wis. But the “detainee locator” on ICE’s website doesn’t provide his current location.
An ICE spokeswoman said Wednesday that, for security reasons, ICE doesn’t release information about “upcoming removals.”
Beristain had worked at Eddie's Steak Shed for eight years until January, when he bought and took over the restaurant from his wife's sister. It employs about 20 people.
As the Tribune reported earlier this month, Beristain had received a voluntary deportation order from a federal immigration judge in New York in 2000 after he and his wife inadvertently crossed the Canada border while visiting Niagra Falls. Agents there discovered that he was in the U.S. illegally. Beristain, who is Mexican, opted to stay since he was concerned about his wife, Helen, a U.S. citizen, who had high blood pressure and was pregnant with their daughter.
Ever since, he has checked in once a year with ICE officials and kept a clean criminal record. ICE agents allowed him to gain a work permit, driver's license and a legal Social Security number and card, which is marked "Valid only with Department of Homeland Security authorization."
ICE detained him Feb. 6. It came shortly after President Donald Trump’s executive order that vastly broadened the priorities for whom ICE agents should deport — out of nearly 1 million immigrants who reportedly linger in the U.S. with a deportation order.
Beristain had come to the U.S. in 1998 to visit his aunt in California, then decided to stay. Helen said the couple have sought to rectify Roberto’s immigration status in 2007, making an appeal since he’s married to a citizen. That case has been pending.