|TUG OF WAR|
June 1, 2000
RAY SUAREZ: News of the victory for Elian's father came over the radio in Miami's Little Havana today, where a small group of Cuban exiles were gathered once again. The decision comes six months after the boy was rescued at sea off the Florida coast.
He was placed with his Miami relatives by local immigration authorities, and Elian remained with them until late April, when federal agents took Elian from his Miami family in a pre-dawn raid. Since then, he's been with his father, Juan Miguel, and his family in Maryland and Washington. But Elian's great uncle, Lazaro Gonzalez in Miami, wants Elian to have a hearing to seek political asylum.
The immigration and naturalization service says no, on grounds that only Elian's father can represent the six- year-old child. In march, a federal district judge sided with the INS and today the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta agreed. The three judge panel ruled: "The policy decision that the INS made was within the outside border of reasonable choices. The Court neither approves nor disapproves the INS's decision to reject the asylum applications filed on Plaintiff's behalf, but the INS decision did not contradict (federal law).
The judgment of the district court is affirmed." As for Elian's immediate future, the court said he has to stay in the country for at least 14 days, to give his Miami family a chance to appeal. In Miami, Elian's relatives said they were disappointed with the ruling, but haven't given up.
MARISLEYSIS GONZALEZ, Elian's Cousin: I will keep my faith, and I think the battle is not over with. He is still here, and still in this great country, and I hope that the laws of this country favor him, and give him the opportunity that we have always asked for: To seek asylum, or let this go to a family court. I also wish to be able to see him again. I don't see why we're not allowed to see him. We took care of him for five months, and we did the best we can.
RAY SUAREZ: In Washington, Elian's father and his father's attorney, Greg Craig, applauded the decision.
GREGORY CRAIG: This was a very important victory not only for Juan Miguel Gonzalez, and for the right of parents to speak for his or her child, and also for the rule of law in the United States. It is now time to end this chapter and let this family go in peace. Elian's relatives in Miami say they love Elian, they say they are concerned about his future, but their love and their concern are best expressed today by calling a halt to legal battle.
RAY SUAREZ: Juan Miguel Gonzalez said he was very pleased. (Speaking Spanish) He said, "A boy should simply always be with his father, and I, as his father, am the one who can speak in the name of my son. In the coming weeks, I hope to bring Elian home with me, to his family and to his friends, and to begin a happier time with him. I want that a lot." Regarding his feud with his Florida relatives, Gonzalez said they could show their love and concern by ending their legal battle, and he urged them to accept the court ruling with dignity and grace.