Give Now

Family Speaks Out After Indiana Restaurant Owner Detained By ICE


Photo: Tyler Lake

Roberto Beristain owns a popular Granger, Ind. restaurant.

The family of a northern Indiana man is speaking out after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers detained him during a routine check-in last month.

Roberto Beristain owns a popular restaurant in St. Joseph County, has a driver’s license and pays taxes. He’s in custody because of an incident that happened more than 15 years ago.


Photo: Tyler Lake

An Eddie's Steak Shed employee hugs Helen Beristain at the restaurant.

Trip To Niagra Falls In 2000 Causes Trouble For Indiana Man

Eddie’s Steak Shed is well-known in Northern Indiana. The small red building sits along a busy stretch of road in Granger. And people come here just as much for the friendly staff as they do for the steak.

“We feel like a big family,” says Paula Barnette, who’s worked at Eddie’s for several years.

She says this place hasn’t been the same over the past month. The patriarch of the business – and the family – is gone.

“How could this be?” Barnette says. “This man pays our checks, pays his taxes.” 

“How could this be? This man pays our checks, pays his taxes.”

—Paula Barnette, Eddie's Steak Shed Employee

Roberto Beristain’s family says he came to the United States illegally from Mexico City in 1998 but had since gotten documentation to work here. He owns Eddie’s Steak Shack and traveled to Indianapolis with his wife Helen last month for his yearly check-in with immigration officials.

“They came outside, knocked on the window,” Helen says. “They said, ‘Are you Roberto’s wife?’ And, I said ‘Yes.’ And, they said, ‘Well, your husband is being detained because of a deportation 16 and a half years ago.’ And, I said, ‘That’s a joke.’ And, they said, ‘No, it’s true.’”

Helen says the incident the officers were referring to stems back to 2000. She and Roberto decided to take a trip to Niagara Falls but took the wrong route and found themselves crossing the border to Canada. Officers there detained Roberto when they discovered he was in the country illegally.

“We got a lawyer and got him on a bail for $1,500,” Helen says. “And they told him, ‘You have to leave voluntarily in a month.’”

But Helen says she was pregnant at the time and suffering from high blood pressure, so Roberto decided to stay.


Photo: Tyler Lake

Roberto's family says he came to the U.S. illegally in 1998 but has since obtained a work permit, driver's license and social security card.

Beristain Detained As Federal Government Changes Deportation Priorities

ICE Public Affairs Officer Gail Montenegro says in a statement, “when he failed to depart the United States by that time as required, his voluntary order reverted to a final order of removal.”

That meant ICE could deport him, but Helen says they allowed him to stay as long as he kept working and didn’t get into trouble.

But the Trump administration is changing the way the government prioritizes people for deportation, expanding its efforts beyond just those who face criminal charges.

Helen says she agrees with the President’s stance on the issue.

“We don’t want to have cartels here, you don’t want to have drugs in your high schools, you don’t want killers next to you,” Helen says. “You want to feel safe when you leave your house. I truly believe that. And, this is why I voted for Mr. Trump.”

But Helen doesn’t understand why her husband is among those being detained. She says he’s an upstanding business owner who’s in the process of applying for a green card – not a criminal.

Now his stepson Phil Kolliopoulos is trying to help keep the family business running, not knowing what the future holds.

“The worst thing … would be deportation,” Kolliopoulos says. “And, it’s hard to think about that. And, it’s hard too because he has a grandson and he can’t see him grow up.”

“He’s trying to hold up. He said, ‘I haven’t done anything wrong, I haven’t committed a crime.’”

—Helen Beristain, Roberto's wife

Roberto’s lawyer filed an application to keep him in the U.S. for at least the next 12 months. He’s also trying to reopen his case for citizenship. But it’s unclear when a decision will be made and the process is often lengthy.

For now, all his family can do is wait and hope immigration officials make a decision in Roberto’s favor. Helen visits him once a week at a detention facility in Wisconsin and says he wants nothing more than to come home.

“He’s trying to hold up,” Helen says. “He said, ‘I haven’t done anything wrong, I haven’t committed a crime. The only crime I’ve done is wanting to be in the United States.’”

If Roberto is deported, he could be barred from entering the United States for up to a decade.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

  • bernmac

    TRUMP 2020!!!

  • Ralph Smith

    Ireland’s prime minister came here two weeks ago to plead for 50,000 Irish people (women & men) who are illegal in this country.
    However, I reckon there are 200,000 Irish illegal here. These are good people who work in construction and in restaurants, etc. These people entered legally with their tourist visit, but with the intention of staying here forever. They overstayed their visa.
    Something has to be done, you cannot deport all of these good Irish people. They contribute to the community by paying taxes and working hard.

  • Phil Lesh Fan

    I agree with your post completely. The bit of sympathy I feel is primarily for their kids, who have been shown by example of their parents that rules and laws are meaningless…..until you get caught.

    The guy and his wife have chosen to make a large family, knowing that they were breaking the law. They rolled the dice and it has come up CRAPS. 20 years is a long time to let something that serious slide. They probably counted on our immigration enforcement getting even more slack than it has been.

    I hope that the entire family is fluent in Spanish. Any idea about what Mexico’s immigration laws are, and how they might apply if the entire family moves there? And if the kids do not speak Spanish, I wonder if Mexican public schools have the expensive support and interpreters which we supply here in America.

  • John Smith

    Umm no. I didn’t vote for Trump. I am for diversity. Too bad Trump won (as you guys say) GET OVER IT. Deport him. Today

  • John Smith

    Kinda like begging for syphilis in 2020

  • John Smith

    Ummm well, the one’s from South America typically ride on top of freight cars to get here. Perhaps they could take the same ride home?

  • BigJimSlade

    “Typical Trump supporter. Doesn’t think the rules apply to them, just to “other” people.”

    I didn’t vote for Trump, but this has to be one of the most ironically strange comments I’ve ever read. Trump supporters aren’t the ones wearing diapers over their faces, rioting and attacking, just because people don’t have the same views as them.

    It’s as if they have their own sets of rules. Unlike “other” people, eh?

  • Love One Another M

    He is a hard working man and will succeed in Mexico.

  • Love One Another M

    How it is good for the white Americans to become minority, in favor of the Mexicans in US? How would Mexico like it, if tens of millions of white Americans move into Mexico and demand education in English, demand all government and business forms be printed in English and the right of a free translator if they don’t understand Spanish? Mexico will never allow any foreigners to take over their country, but they demand the right of open borders with US.

  • Sherman D. Oaks

    In the second paragraph it states that he has a drivers license, so that’s your answer to the question about his identification, and further down in the article is this “Roberto Beristain’s family says he came to the United States illegally from Mexico City in 1998 but had since gotten documentation to work here.” So there is your answer to the Social Security question.
    For someone who types out such wordy responses, you apparently do not pay much attention to what others write.

  • Sherman D. Oaks

    There’s a lot of mean spirited people on this board, all in the line of “I’ve got mine, to hell with everyone else” sort of thinking.
    I guess nobody really pays attention to history in high school. The United States basically just took Texas, New Mexico, and California from Mexico, those states were Mexican territory up until the Mexican American war.
    Mexico had just won independence from Spain, and was in no condition to fight for their territories, but they did, and it was no match, and after defeating the Mexicans, the U.S. threw some cash at Mexico for the “purchase” of their lands, which basically what was the cause of the war in the first place! Texas had just claimed independence, not recognized by Mexico, and the United States offered to buy it, when Mexico refused, the war started, and in the end, the United States got everything they wanted, but in the aftermath it left lots and lots of families separated by a border.
    Long story short, in todays world, how we annexed the southwestern states would not fly, so don’t judge your Mexican neighbor so harshly, they’re only illegal because we took their land!

  • Sherman D. Oaks

    Funny thing, immediately before the Mexican American war, the Mexican government attempted the tactics that Trump is trying today with the zero border crossing tolerance and the high tariff thing, only to have the citizens revolt. Watch it all play out again in todays world.

  • Phil Lesh Fan

    Well pardon my wordiness, Sherman. But I do not understand why, if he had “gotten documentation to work here” he is now in trouble with immigration. Being in trouble with immigration implies to me that he is here illegally. And being here illegally implies that a valid SSN is not available for him.

    I pay close attention to what most people write, Sherman. And I raise questions which presumably Democratic Party loyalist people like you do not care to ponder. So it goes.

  • ColoradoBubbie

    Good luck with that one. You will be lucky if he isn’t fired or quit before then.

  • Mayo Finch

    “dems are the biggest threat facing americans in these times. they would be extinct without ILLEGAL ALIENS” – The so well informed and obviously knows his stuff, Mr. Rick Crosley

    If you go through his comment history, you will find such splendors of his mind, such as…

    “mr. trump exposed hollywood actress prostitution ring”


    “did the stain on the blue dress bounce off your chin gary dean? couldn’t you swallow all of it?”

    Let us marvel at his articulate vision and amazing open mind…

    “chuck todd is third in line to suck puss out of her bloated rectum”


    “bammas mad at his white mamma for screwing trash from africa”

  • Hidden Name

    I’m sure his success in Mexico will be a big comfort to his wife, family, friends and all his employees in the United States.

  • Jose

    I understand why Roberto and others sneak into the United States. I understand why people sneak payments to authorities for the authority to look the other way. I understand why people in the dark of night sneak down neighborhood roads and dump trash on the side of the road. I understand why people break the law.

    Roberto and millions of others are in the United States illegally. The United States is a country of laws and similar to Mexico’s immigration laws Roberto will be removed and sent back to his country of birth. Don’t let Roberto’s wife’s blindness distract you from the fact Roberto broke the law.

  • Jose

    My guess is Gringos would be thrown out of Mexico immediately after they pay a substantial fine and served mandatory jail time.

  • Jose

    Nothing mean spirited about throwing Roberto, or any other illegally residing person out of the country. They are here after breaking the law ,and remain here by breaking more laws. Get Out!

  • Jose

    Once Roberto’s family hear of his success in Mexico his family will soon follow. Adios Roberto, go easy on the chilies.

  • Bread & Circuses

    Don’t get me wrong. I feel sorry for him, but I fall in a hard line on illegal immigration. Come in right or don’t come at all. I was just explaining what I have learned about how people can get away with some things. As for using a TIN for liquor licences etc..I don’t know…I would be more inclined to think maybe his wife used her info for that.

  • Bread & Circuses

    No, the fact that they support Trump just means that they know right from wrong. Like most people who do illegal things however, they had they attitude that a. they would never get caught or b. my case is special and I will get by with it. Yes, illegal is illegal. I’m sorry however, that they chose to bring children into the situation. That was supremely unfair to the children. They are the ones who will suffer for the parents hubris. It is not the government that is hurting the children, the government is simply enforcing the law. A law the parents knew they had broken.

  • Phil Lesh Fan

    The illegals are so entrenched in our country. Try getting a roofing company, at least in my town, who does not employ them. Impossible. This has reached a point of being so discouraging that giving up sometimes seems the order of the day, reprehensible as that thought is. The inertia of The Left is just so huge… huge. I am glad that I am not a young person.

  • Bread & Circuses

    My stepbrother owned a very successful sheetrock and carpentry business in the late 90s. He didn’t hire illegals but his competition did. By 2001 he was priced out of business. The resultant money trouble called him to lose his home, as well as the business. His marriage was put under strain, they had 3 small children. As money trouble tends to do it finished the marriage off. Unfortunately the left either tends to live in their parents basement, or have a useless degree (at least to the rest of us) that involved courses in something like “The Sociology of Miley Cyrus: Race, Class, Gender and Media” or “Black Women, Beyoncé & Popular Culture”. They then use that degree to turn kids with potential into ignorant lemmings. They don’t do blue collar work so illegal immigration doesn’t concern them, unless they have to cancel their Monday night protest. That might ruin their week. Or their house isn’t cleaned for 4 dollars that week because we actually have a President willing to enforce the law.

  • Phil Lesh Fan

    How sad about your stepbrother and his children. Sounds like he married a shallow and worthless and faithless person. Money itself is not evil, but those who worship it certainly are, or can be.

  • pianoman

    That’s only because they are too busy stealing every penny they can get their hands on, and betraying this nation to Russia.

  • Mumra

    Roberto took a ride to the other side (of the border) and now his family is whining about criminals and gangs and cartels. and the injustice of it all.

    The simple fact of the matter is he bought that restaurant in January, he’s now “ready” to get a green card, his grandson won’t get to see his face, blah, blah, blah.

    Honest to God, this woman got EXACTLY what she wanted, which is illegal’s sent to Mexico. If it was anyone else, she would be happy as a clam but it’s her husband, so it’s a great miscarriage of justice.

    I guess the grass is always greener on the other side of the (border) fence.

  • Fake News

    She voted for tRump! Hard to feel much sympathy. Hope she’s not counting on the tRump to protect her preexisting hypertension problem.
    Vote for a grifter you are going to get grifted

  • JQR S

    Roberto sounds like good person and an immigrant that America would want to have a naturalized citizen. But……..

    WTF part of the law that it is illegal to enter the country and stay don’t you people understand ?
    Roberto was a good man, Roberto lived here for 2 decades, Roberto raised three children, Roberto ran a restaurant, Roberto this, Roberto that, Roberto bla bla bla bla bla………. Ok Check, check, check, …………. But ………..

    Roberto entered the country illegally, Roberto stayed in the country for decades illegally, Roberto
    worked illegally, Roberto was issued a self-deportation order which he
    ignored, Roberto received a final order demanding he leave the country,
    which he also ignored, Roberto was arrested and is scheduled to be
    deported. And NOW, everyone is outraged !!!!

    Why didn’t Roberto apply to enter legally, apply for a green card, then become a naturalized citizen ?
    Helen his wife
    did not expect President Trump to enforce the federal laws that he took an oath on the Lincoln Bible to
    uphold when he was elected !!

    Why ? Because Hussein Obama lied when he took his oath ?

    WTF is wrong with you people ?

  • MKRowe

    We already did that. It was called California and Texas.

    And of course, this was after white European immigrants came in and took the land away from the Native Americans, lying, cheating, breaking treaties, purposely infecting them with smallpox…

    Gee. Wonder how they liked that?

  • Jesse Willette

    I’ve worked on the border… so anyone who crosses it ILLEGALY would be a good start.

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Indiana Public Media News:

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

Search News

Stay Connected

RSS e-mail itunes Facebook Twitter Flickr YouTube

Follow us on Twitter

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Indiana Public Media News:

Recent Politics Stories

Recent Videos

Find Us on Facebook