SAN FRANCISCO – A gay married couple from Cathedral City, Calif., will get to stay together after an immigration judge dropped a deportation case against one of the men after the federal government relaxed it rules.
Alex Benshimol, 47, had been facing deportation to his homeland of Venezuela after overstaying his visitor visa. He legally married his partner, Doug Gentry, 53, in Connecticut in 2010. They have been together for about five years.
The judge dropped the case after the Obama administration relaxed federal guidelines on low-priority deportation cases, such as when the deportation target has a spouse who is an American citizen. The new rules apparently include legally married gay and lesbian couples, according to Metro Weekly, which quoted high-level officials with the Obama administration.
The couple learned the good news over the weekend.
"They’re relieved," said Lavi Soloway, Benshimol’s attorney. "For them, the struggle’s certainly not over, but the nightmare’s over. They don’t have to wake up every morning worrying that Alex is going to be deported."
Benshimol has two adult stepsons who live in California. He has been trying to establish a pet grooming service in San Francisco, where the couple plans to move.