The family and friends of a business owner who was deported to Mexico recently speak out against the new immigration policy that led to his arrest, and that of thousands of other illegal immigrants with no criminal records. Anderson Cooper talks to the Indiana residents, most of whom voted for President Donald Trump, whose new policy directly affected business owner Roberto Beristain, for a 60 Minutes report Sunday, May 7 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
Beristain had no criminal record and had lived in the U.S. for nearly 20 years. His wife and children are all U.S. citizens. He entered the U.S. illegally in 1998, but he'd been issued a temporary work permit, social security number, and driver's license during the Obama administration. Beristain was the longtime cook and new owner of "Eddie's Steak Shed," a restaurant in Granger, Indiana, which employs up to 20 people.
"I voted for [Trump] because he said he was going to get rid of the bad hombres-- Roberto is a good hombre."
"It just feels wrong," says Kimberly Glowacki. She and other local residents who know Beristain spoke with Cooper. "The community is better for having someone like him," says Michelle Craig. "This is not the person he said he would deport," she added, referring to President Trump, who she says she voted for. Dave Keck echoed her feelings. "I voted for him because he said he was going to get rid of the bad hombres-- Roberto is a good hombre," he tells Cooper. Matt Leliaert says Beristain had the American Dream in his hands: "I mean, he showed up here with just the shirt on his back and he's a restaurant owner 20 years later...and he worked his butt off to get there."
During the Obama administration, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) was told to focus on deporting illegal immigrants with convictions for felonies or serious misdemeanors. On his fifth day in office, President Trump signed a new executive order that still made deporting criminals a priority, but also made it easier to deport people with no criminal records. ICE says the number of illegal immigrants with no criminal records who have been arrested has more than doubled since President Trump signed that order.
"There's a new sheriff in town. And the law's going to be enforced."
James Carafano, a policy expert at the Heritage Foundation and a member of the president's transition team, says the new policy is designed to serve as a deterrent. "It's not that they're going out and they're looking for people who have done nothing. But that we have an obligation to enforce the law," he says. "And if somebody comes across our path who's broken the law... There's a new sheriff in town. And the law's going to be enforced."
In a statement, ICE told 60 Minutes that Roberto Beristain had been deported because he had a "final order of removal" against him. During a trip to Niagara Falls, 17 years ago, Beristain had taken a wrong turn, ended up at the Canadian Border, and been detained for not having papers. When he failed to "voluntarily depart" the U.S. within 60 days after that incident, he automatically became the subject of that "final order of removal." But three years ago, he obtained a temporary deferral of that order, and he had been checking in with the government once a year ever since.
Beristain's wife, Helen, tells Cooper about her husband: "The only bad thing he's done is stayed in the United States because he loves this country. That's his only crime."