INS Makes Decision on Cuban Boy CustodyAired January 5, 2000 - 8:31 a.m. ET
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CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Now the latest on a 6-year-old Cuban boy, Elian Gonzalez, and his status here in the United States, whether he will stay with his family here or be deported back to Cuba to stay with his father.
On the telephone with us right now is Armando Gutierrez. He is a representative of the Gonzalez family.
Can you hear me Mr. Gutierrez?
ARMANDO GUTIERREZ, GONZALEZ FAMILY SPOKESMAN: Yes, good morning.
LIN: Good morning. I understand that the INS had some news for you this morning. Can you tell us what it is?
GUTIERREZ: Well, at 7:30 this morning, the INS called the family of the Gonzalez family and told them that Washington had reached a decision on the fate of Elian Gonzalez and they would announce it this morning at 11:00 a.m.
LIN: All right, so you don't know what that decision is yet by the INS.
GUTIERREZ: No. They said that they could either fax, call it over the phone or, you know, get it in person, and the family decided to (AUDIO GAP) in person with their attorney.
LIN: All right, well, yesterday the INS was basically taking some contingency steps to expedite this deportation. Do you see this as a move towards returning Elian to his father in Cuba?
GUTIERREZ: Well, we don't know. You know, there's a lot of -- more deals being made with the Castro government in Washington and we don't know what deals have been made that this boy was part of them.
LIN: And how does the family feel about how the INS has been handling the case? Fairly?
GUTIERREZ: Well, they feel that the -- you know, that the father, if he would come here with the rest of his family, will be able to freely say what he wants for the boy. They don't feel that he's being honest in what he's saying in Cuba because he is being watched by the Cuban government. LIN: So if the INS clears the way, if Elian's father is able to come to the United States, is the Gonzalez family going to release Elian, let him go home?
GUTIERREZ: Well, they would like to, you know -- for the father to come with the rest of the family who's in Cuba so when he comes here, (AUDIO GAP) left in Cuba that he might be afraid that something might happen to them. And they will probably sit down as a family to work this thing out.
LIN: Well, what would be the next plan then? Are they planning on continuing their fight to keep Elian here in United States?
GUTIERREZ: I believe that they're going to continue their fight because they believe strongly that the mother's wishes -- she lost her life to bring this little boy to freedom, and they would like to, you know, make sure that what the mother wanted is respected.
LIN: Well, what else can they do?
GUTIERREZ: Well, legally, they can go to court. There's a lot of legal, you know, things that they could do. But that will be something the attorney will have to comment on.
LIN: All right. How is Elian doing? It was his first day at school yesterday.
GUTIERREZ: Yes, I just -- we just took him to school this morning. He's very happy. He doesn't know any decision has been made, and he was in school -- you know, he finished his homework last night, and he's a happy 6-year-old little boy that, if he goes back to Cuba when he becomes 7, he will not be able to get milk because they will not even give him milk anymore.
LIN: All right, well, his father is waiting for news as well as he waits in Cuba.
Thank you very much, Armando Gutierrez.
He represents the Gonzalez family here in the United States -- friend of the family. So we're waiting to hear that decision; might come around 11:00 Eastern this morning.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: You do wonder what's going through that little boy's mind, you know.
LIN: I know, you know all the media opportunities show him to be a happy little boy. You wonder if he really knows what's going on.
PHILLIPS: Yes, strong little kid.
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