When Donald Trump – the presidential candidate – said he planned to deport undocumented immigrants, Helen Beristain didn’t worry. Despite having built a life with 43-year-old Roberto Beristain, an undocumented man born in Mexico, she believed Trump would only deport those with criminal records – a category her husband didn’t fall under. When her husband complained that Trump would get “rid of the Mexicans,” she insisted he wouldn’t. During last year’s presidential election, she voted for Trump, the candidate she felt could improve the economy. Less than a month after Trump took office, she learned that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement intended to deport her husband. And after living in detention centers for the last two months, ICE deported him to Juarez on Tuesday, BuzzFeed reports.
Roberto – a father of three who resided in Indiana – arrived in the United States in 1998 to visit a relative, and he decided to remain in the country without proper documentation. By the year 2000 – already married to Helen – he made a wrong turn and accidentally crossed the Canadian border. It’s then that he signed a voluntary self-deportation order, which gave him 60 days to leave the United States. But because he and Helen were on the cusp of parenthood, he decided to stay.
He’s since checked in with ICE every year. And according to the South Bend Tribune, it’s with the agency’s cooperation that Roberto obtained a work permit, driver’s license, and Social Security card that read “Valid only with Department of Homeland Security authorization.”
Though he remained unscathed under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Trump – who has called for the mass deportation of the undocumented community– signed an executive immigration order in January, which widened the scope of who is fair game for deportation. Many say this order has given ICE carte blanche. Whether or not this is true, we’ve seen many similar stories crop up. Like José Hernández’s. A month after Roberto’s ICE check-in, Atlanta resident Hernández received a deportation order during his appointment with the agency. In February, Guadalupe García de Rayos headed to the federal ICE office in Phoenix – as she had done for the last eight years – to check in. Instead, immigration agents arrested her, and quickly deported her – as her story became headline news.
Unlike Guadalupe, whose story made people feel indignant, some find it difficult to feel for Helen, who told the South Bend Tribune, that she was once an undocumented immigrant. She told the publication that people have called Eddie’s Steak Shed, the restaurant her husband bought, and threatened the family. Helen says she now regrets voting for Trump. “I wish I didn’t vote at all,” she said.
Regardless of whether you can muster sympathy for Helen, their case is another example of a family divided because of the United States’s broken immigration system.