In 2016, the friends and family of the beloved Roberto Beristain, a former dishwasher who worked his way up to become the owner of “Eddie’s Steak Shed,” voted for Donald Trump. For them, Trump was a champion who would rid the country of illegal immigrants draining the government’s resources and committing crimes.
But to Roberto, an undocumented immigrant, the election of Donald Trump meant losing his friends, his business, and his family.
Eddie’s, nestled in Granger, Indiana, was the crown jewel among locals, who loved the rustic, homey feel of the traditional restaurant and breakfast diner.
“It was a steak place, but you felt like it was more of a home,” said Chuck Matheny, a customer who dined at Eddie’s nearly every other day of the week.
Both Matheny and Roberto’s wife, Helen Beristain, were huge supporters of Trump in 2016. Roberto, however, was worried that Trump would deport Mexicans living in the U.S.
“Only the bad ones,” Matheny recalled saying.
But upon Trump’s election, Roberto’s fate took a turn for the worst. Every year, Roberto traveled to Miami to see an immigration lawyer and check in with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. But less than a month into the Trump administration, during his annual trip to Miami, agents told him to visit the ICE office in Indianapolis. But while Helen waited in the car, she learned from an officer that Roberto would not be allowed to leave the building.
Distraught, Helen told her friend, who relayed the information to Matheny.
“It changed my view on how the country treats its immigrants,” he said. “I thought they would go after, like Trump said, those who were bringing in drugs and the rapists. But they went after a regular guy who just cared about living the American Dream.”
Roberto was deported back to Mexico, where Helen and their three children moved to join him.
“If we are not together, what kind of family is that?” she said during a phone interview.
What happened to Roberto has changed Matheny’s view on immigration entirely. “We need to do something to help end prejudice,” he says now. “If there are so many illegal people in the country, then it gives license to believe every immigrant is illegal.”