- The Washington Times - Monday, January 10, 2000

Rep. Dan Burton, who issued a subpoena to a 6-year-old Cuban to prevent the boy's return home before a court can rule on custody, said yesterday he will go along with whatever the courts decide.
"If the court decides the boy should go back, then we should live with that. If the court decides the boy should stay here … then we will live with that," the Indiana Republican and chairman of the Government Reform Committee said on ABC's "This Week."
A leader of a Cuban-American group seeking to keep Elian Gonzalez in the United States said it won't cooperate with an Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) order requiring that the boy be returned to Cuba by Jan. 14. "We want justice to take place, not politics," Ramon Sanchez, a Cuban exile who is president of a Miami-based organization known as the Democracy Movement, said on CNN's "Late Edition."
"If Immigration attempts to deport Elian, we will call people immediately to occupy the airport," Mr. Sanchez said.
He said he believes INS' order that Elian be returned to Cuba was "inspired by the White House in order to maintain the immigration accords with the Cuban government, in total disregard of the civil rights of the boy."
But Mr. Sanchez suggested he could accept a family court ruling.
He said the family court will "take into account issues such as the death of the mother to save him and bring him to freedom," issues such as whether Elian's father, who remains in Cuba, is being "coerced by the Cuban dictatorship" to seek his son's return, and "most importantly, issues about whether the best interests of the child will be served by living under a dictatorship or by living in freedom."
A Miami-Dade County family court said it expects to issue a ruling early this week possibly today or tomorrow on a petition from Elian's great-uncle in Miami to gain temporary custody of the boy. Elian has been living in the great-uncle's home since late November.
Elian arrived in Miami after surviving a shipwreck in which his mother, stepfather, and nine other persons drowned while fleeing communist Cuba. He spent two days alone on an inner tube before being rescued by fishermen on Thanksgiving Day.
A national CNN poll, released yesterday, showed Americans by a wide margin support sending the 6-year-old boy back to Cuba, as the Clinton administration has sought and as Elian's father and Cuban President Fidel Castro have demanded.
In the poll, 56 percent of respondents said the boy should be reunited with his father in Cuba, while 35 percent support allowing him to stay in the United States.
Elian reportedly wants to remain in this country. Sen. Robert C. Smith, New Hampshire Republican, visited with the child over the weekend. He said Elian told him in Spanish: "I don't want to go back to Cuba. Please help me."
Politicians were divided on the issue.
"Really, the boy belongs with his father," Sen. Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat, said on "Late Edition." Sen. Paul Wellstone, Minnesota Democrat, agreed.
But Sen. John McCain, Republican presidential hopeful, said on CBS' "Face the Nation": "I'd like to see efforts made to keep this young boy in America. We seem to forget that the young boy's mother gave her life so that he could, as we say on the Statue of Liberty, breathe free."
The Arizona Republican said he's been told "the only people that have ever been sent back to Cuba [from the United States] are criminals."
"This is going to be the first time a non-criminal was ever sent back. I don't think that's right," he said.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide