When Helen Beristain told her husband she was voting for Donald Trump last year, he warned her that the Republican nominee planned to "get rid of the Mexicans".

Defending her vote, Beristain quoted Trump directly, noting that the tough-talking Republican said he would kick only the "bad hombres" out of the country.

Months later, Roberto Beristain - a successful businessman, respected member of his Indiana town and the father of three American-born children - languishes in a detention facility with hardened criminals as he awaits his deportation back to Mexico, the country he left in 1998.

"I wish I didn't vote at all," Helen Beristain told the South Bend Tribune. "I did it for the economy. We needed a change."

Advertisement

Critics on the left have blasted Helen Beristain for not taking the president's rhetoric seriously and allowing his administration to plunge the country into what they consider a chaotic and inhumane immigration debacle.

Critics on the right have inundated the family with racist threats and attacked Beristain for giving refuge to the love of her life, a man they consider a foreign interloper.

Supporters say the 43-year-old Roberto doesn't have so much as a parking ticket on his record.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) officials arrested him when he showed up for his annual meeting with the agency on February 6. Beristain - who had obtained a Social Security card, a work permit and a driver's license - was expecting to return home.

Helen and Roberto Beristain have three children and a successful restaurant in Indiana. Photo / Beristain family
Helen and Roberto Beristain have three children and a successful restaurant in Indiana. Photo / Beristain family

Beristain has been in the United States since 1998. He is the owner of a restaurant called Eddie's Steak Shed, which employs 20 American citizens.

In 2000, an Ice spokeswoman said, a federal immigration judge granted him "voluntary departure" for a 60-day period. Because he didn't leave the US, Beristain's "voluntary departure order reverted to a final order of removal". And yet, by cooperating with Ice officials, Beristain was able to lead a normal life in plain view.

Previously, the Obama Administration prioritised the deportation of people who were violent offenders or had ties to criminal gangs. Trump's executive order on January 25 expanded priorities to include any undocumented immigrants who had been convicted of a criminal offence.