Stopping Deportation Cases: The DOMA Project
Los Angeles, CA
Government publicly announced it has dropped the deportation proceedings that threatened to separate Alex Benshimol and Douglas Gentry — a married, gay, binational couple in California — marking the second time in which Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has agreed to close a deportation case involving a married, same-sex couple.
This is the first same-sex deportation case to close following the June 17 prosecutorial discretion guidelines issued by ICE director John Morton. This victory for Benshimol and Gentry, who live in Cathedral City, California, ends their personal nightmare and signifies a hopeful future for thousands of other same-sex binational couples facing deportation. After appearing before San Francisco Immigration Judge Marilyn Teeter for their deportation hearing on July 13, 2011 Judge Teeter instructed the government to respond within 60 days to a lengthy and detailed request for administrative closure from the couple’s attorney, Lavi Soloway.
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, however, Judge Teeter received and granted the government’s Motion to Administratively Close deportation proceedings against Benshimol.
On August 18, Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security, announced a case-by-case review of all current and future deportation cases. This is another milestone in the fight to repeal DOMA.
“We are cautiously optimistic after the announcement this week by Secretary Napolitano that all 300,000 pending deportation cases will be reviewed for possible closure, including those impacting LGBT families,” says Soloway. “However, we do not yet know 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.”
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