Alex Benshimol and Douglas Gentry have been together for 6 years, and in July 2010, they were married. But until recently, their relationship was clouded by the threat that Benshimol would be deported to his native Venezuela by the United States. Now, an Immigration Judge in San Francisco has dropped the deportation proceedings.
The U.S. government says the decision to halt proceedings against Benshimol is part of a new focus on deporting criminals, rather than prosecuting illegal immigrants who have family ties in the U.S. In March of this year, U.S. officials released a statement saying that "gay marriages will be honored in the U.S. in accordance with the directive of the U.S. President on the Defence of Marriage Act."
In recent months, several couples in similar situations to Benshimol and Gentry have fought to remain together on U.S. soil - Monica Alcota and Cristina Ojeda were granted a reprieve in March, while another Venezuelan, Henry Velandia, has been allowed to stay in the country with his American husband, Josh Vandiver. For Benshimol and Gentry, the government's decision is a huge relief. In a statement, they said, "it's like waking up from a bad dream... this should bring hope to so many couples in our situation."