The case of an Indiana man, married to a Trump voter but who faces deportation, is entering a final phase.
Roberto Beristain spends his days being ferried among different ICE facilities nationwide as he awaits deportation, which could occur any moment, the family's spokesman, Chicago lawyer Adam Ansari, told the Washington Post.
His wife, Helen Beristain, thought President Donald Trump would deport only the criminals and troublemakers.
Now that her husband has been arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials despite his clean record, she wishes she hadn't voted in the presidential election.
Less than two months ago, Roberto Beristain, the father of three American children, was the owner of a successful restaurant, Eddie's Steak Shed in Granger, Indiana.
Then he was arrested by the ICE officials when he showed up for his annual meeting with the agency. He had been living with his family in Mishawaka, Indiana.
"I understand when you're a criminal and you do bad things, you shouldn't be in the country," Helen Beristain told the CBS TV affiliate WSBT. "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."
Beristain's lawyers said they have been informed by Mexican consular officials that their client will be deported tomorrow.
With the Beristain family's hopes dimming, the legal effort to keep the popular Indiana business owner in the country has entered a new phase: the Hail Mary pass.
Roberto Beristain's lawyers said they've discovered a discrepancy in 17-year-old paperwork that could halt their client's deportation. The challenge, Ansari said, is that the 43-year-old is being moved from one ICE facility to the next, creating multiple jurisdictions for his legal team's motions and making it difficult to get a hearing in front of a judge.
In recent weeks, Roberto Beristain has been moved from Wisconsin to Louisiana to New Mexico and now Texas. If he's deported, he will be flown to Mexico, the country he left in 1998 when he entered the United States illegally.
"ICE officials keep moving him around knowing full well we are arguing that there hasn't been afforded adequate due process," Ansari said. "It doesn't seem like they care. It's a complete violation of his rights."
In a habeas petition filed last week, Roberto Beristain's lawyers argue that the US Government denied him his due process rights when he was detained after inadvertently crossing the Canadian border while visiting Niagara Falls with his wife in 2000.
During that detainment, the lawyers said, he was improperly classified as an "alien present without inspection," a legal designation given to undocumented immigrants already inside US borders.
Because Roberto Beristain had crossed into Canada, his lawyers maintain, he should have been classified as an "arriving alien," a designation that would make him eligible to push for permanent resident status.
If he had been correctly classified, the lawyers argue, he would not have been eligible for a "voluntary departure" order, which was granted by a federal immigration judge for a 60-day period after he was detained in Canada and which forms the basis of his current removal.
Because he didn't leave the United States during that period, his "voluntary departure order reverted to a final order of removal," an ICE spokeswoman told the Post last month.
Their argument is based on a plain reading of the law, but his lawyers believe it's the proper reading and may force a judge to entirely reconsider Roberto Beristain's legal status.
"This case is a clear example of how complicated the system is, since even those charged with enforcing immigration laws don't know what they're doing," Ansari said. "So how is someone like Roberto - who is not versed in the law - supposed to get right with the law when people who are tasked with enforcing it and representing it to immigration judges don't accurately and properly portray the facts."
Roberto Beristain's lawyers said they have also filed pleadings with the immigration court in New York asking "for the rescission of the unlawful voluntary departure order" issued 17 years ago.
"People look at these things and see an immigration case, but the real story here is that it's a case that involves a fundamental right to due process," said Rekha Sharma-Crawford, an immigration lawyer who has worked on the case. "When you have a system that fails, it leads to a catastrophic result. Hopefully, we can go back in the court in New York and they will do the right thing."
An ICE spokeswoman said Roberto Beristian was arrested because he didn't leave the United States when ordered to do so by a judge in 2000, at which point his "voluntary departure order reverted to a final order of removal".
Asked to comment on allegations that Beristain is being moved around to keep him from being seen by a judge, she said ICE moves detainees around "based on available bed space nationwide".