Karen Ocamb

US Immigration Says Gay Foreign Partner Will Not Be Deported

Filed By Karen Ocamb | August 20, 2011 8:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Alex Benshimol, Doug Gentry, immigrations and customs, Lavi Soloway, same-sex, Stop the Deportations

Great news from Stop The Deportations attorney Lavi Soloway about Palm Springs-based binational couple Venezuelan Alex Benshimol and Doug Gentry: Immigrations and Customs Enforcement has administratively closed deportation proceedings against Benshimol.

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Doug Gentry and Alex Benshimol in July 2010 (Photo courtesy Lavi Soloway)

Here's Lavi Soloway's explanation about what just happened:

"For the second time this year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has dropped deportation proceedings against a married gay binational couple, who have courageously fought a high profile campaign as part of the Stop The Deportations - DOMA Project.

On July 13, Alex Benshimol and Doug Gentry appeared before San Francisco Immigration Judge Marilyn Teeter for deportation hearing. Judge Teeter instructed the government to respond within 60 days to our lengthy and detailed request for administrative closure. Judge Teeter scheduled the next hearing for September 2013, postponing deportation proceedings for more than two years in the event that the government did not agree to close the case. On August 11, the Judge received and granted the government's Motion to Administratively Close deportation proceedings against Venezuelan Alex Benshimol. We received the decision today. This effectively ends the nightmare faced by Alex and his American husband, Doug Gentry.

Another DOMA deportation has been stopped, following a year long campaign by the Stop The Deportations-DOMA Project. We are preventing DOMA from destroying marriages, one victory at a time, but we still need a uniform policy that will make these case by case determinations unnecessary. We are cautiously optimistic after the announcement this week by Janet Napolitano that all 300,000 pending deportation case will be reviewed for possible closure, including those impacting LGBT families. However, we do not know yet the mechanics of that process, nor how long it will take for the government working group to carry out its mission. In the meantime we must continue to fight for each couple and for an end to DOMA deportations across the board.

I think it's important to note that the government responded to our lengthy and detailed request for prosecutorial discretion within weeks of the July 13 hearing and that this decision was based on the June 17 Morton memo on prosecutorial discretion-showing that the guidelines in that memo can be properly applied to stop DOMA deportations.

It serves as an example to ICE prosecutors and deportation officers throughout the country, as well as to Immigration Judges, because it demonstrates that a just outcome can be achieved for married lesbian and gay binational couples simply by deciding not to pursue deportation when doing so would result in a marriage being torn part by an unjust and unconstitutional law.


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