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'We can get through this' – Granger restaurant owner faces deportation

A Granger restaurant owner is facing deportation to Mexico.

Roberto Beristain, 43, owns Eddies Steak Shed.

It's been a part of the community for the past 40 years.

Roberto took over the business in January, according to his family.

Now, family members say they're stepping in to help run the business while Roberto is being held in a county jail in Kenosha, Wis.

"You take one person out of the equation, a person that does so much, everybody feels it a lot," said Roberto's son, Phil Kolliopoulos.

"I didn't know what to think."

Roberto's wife Helen says she was with her husband the day he was taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in Indianapolis.

"I was going crazy," she said. "I didn't know what to think."

Roberto's attorney Jason Flora, who is based in Indianapolis, says Roberto was doing a yearly check-in with ICE. Flora says Roberto has a work permit, drivers license, social security information, pays taxes and was in the process of obtaining an immigrant visa.

"He is exactly the kind of immigrant we want here," Flora said.

Last month, President Trump directed officials to be more aggressive in arresting and deporting anyone who is in the U.S. illegally.

Helen says she agrees with the President's efforts to deport immigrants who may be causing danger to communities across the country, but says Roberto is not one of those people.

"I understand when you're a criminal and you do bad things, you shouldn't be in the country," Helen said. "But when you're a good citizen and you support and you help and you pay taxes and you give jobs to people, you should be able to stay." "We were for Mr. Trump," she added. "We were very happy he became the president. Whatever he says, he is right. But, like he said, the good people have a chance to become citizens of the United States."

Deportation Order

According to Flora, Roberto was issued a deportation order in 2000, after he and Helen were stopped at the Canadian border on a trip to Niagara Falls.

Roberto didn't have papers to legally be in the country and was detained in Batavia, NY. Helen says she hired an attorney and paid a bond.

After that, Flora says a Federal Immigration Judge ordered Roberto to voluntarily deport himself to Mexico within the next 60 days.

Helen says she was pregnant with one of her daughters at the time.

"He said, 'I'm not going to leave you alone, I can't let you go through this by yourself," Helen said. "Something happens to you or the baby, I will never forgive myself."

Flora says Roberto was later issued a removal order, which means ICE had the right to deport to him.

Roberto has been under the supervision of Immigration and Customs Enforcement since then.

"What they do is say, 'okay, if you don't commit any felonies or any crimes or anything bad, DUI, traffic tickets, then you can proceed with your documents to get your green card and to become a citizen in the United States," Helen said. "And that's what Roberto was doing."

Roberto's family says they believe he should continue to have that chance.

"When he was here it was hard to get a hold of him because he's always doing something," Kolliopoulos said. "Not for himself but for everybody else."

"I just hope people realize this is actually happening."

Roberto and Helen have been married for 17 years.

Helen came to the U.S. from Greece when she was ten. Roberto came from Mexico 19 years ago.

"We worked at a restaurant in Ft. Wayne, both of us, about 16 and a half years ago," Helen said. "He was working back in the kitchen and I was a hostess. He was always laughing and joking and asking me to go out to dinner and finally I said yes."

Helen says she and her husband have taken pride in their restaurant.

Family members say Roberto is still trying to help, even from miles away.

"He's setting goals on what he wants to do," Kolliopoulos said. "It's just amazing that he can still try and run a business over a phone."

Helen says she and her daughters travel to see Roberto every Sunday.

They're allowed to visit him for 30 minutes on those days.

He can talk to them on the phone during the week, but Helen says she learns very little information about his future.

"Something good will come out of this," Helen said. "All of the good people will come out. I don't think ICE is out there to just detain anybody and break families. I think at the end of the day, it's going to be okay," she added.

"I just hope people realize this is actually happening," Kolliopoulos said. "To actually have it happen so close to you, to yourself and to home, it is just shocking."

According to Adam Ansari, who has been helping the family get legal advice and information, says he's been contacted by several immigrant families who are fearful of deportation,

"There are a lot of people who are being picked up in situations where they haven't done anything wrong," Ansari said. "We're not only targeting criminals anymore and people that are doing illegal activities, we're targeting family members , we're targeting business owners and we're targeting people who are simply trying to provide for their family and community."

"We can get through this"

Flora says says he filed paperwork asking ICE not to deport Roberto.

If that request is denied, Roberto will be deported to Mexico and could be banned from the U.S. for up to 10 years.

If that happens, Flora says Roberto could apply for waivers to come back to the U.S.

"In any aspect, in any way you look at it, you have to be strong and you have to stick together and we can get through this," Helen said.





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