FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEAG
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 19, 2000(202) 616-2777
WWW.USDOJ.GOVTDD (202) 514-1888
STATEMENT BY ATTORNEY GENERAL JANET RENO
ON THE 11th CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS DECISION
"For the past four months, the case of Elian Gonzalez has touched the hearts of virtually every American. It is a case about a 6 year old boy -- and the sacred bond that exists between he and his father. It is that simple -- Juan Miguel is in this country and wants his son back.
"I believe Elian should be reunited with his father. I have said that all along. The order today from the Court of Appeals says that Elian should not be removed from the country and we will abide by that order. But it does not disagree with my determination that the boy should be reunited with his father in the United States as soon as possible. In fact, the court said that 'we need not decide where or in whose custody Plaintiff should remain while this appeal is pending.'
"There are two issues here that must be kept separate. One is whether an asylum application can be brought by distant relatives over the objection of a father who is the sole surviving parent. The other issue is who cares for the child while he is in the United States. The appeal addresses only the asylum issue, not the care issue. The court's order does not preclude me from placing Elian in his father's care while he is in the United States.
"The immigration laws clearly call for a child to be placed in the care of a parent in preference to a more distant relative while the child's immigration status is being resolved.
"The 11th Circuit's order prevents the child from leaving the country, while the appeal is pending. We will abide by the court's order.
"We are still reviewing the court's decision as I have just had a chance to read it. And we will consider all options and take the course of action most appropriate under the circumstances.'"