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Elian Gonzalez Case: Appeals Court to Decide on Asylum Rehearing Today

Aired June 23, 2000 - 12:03 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN ANCHOR: CNN has learned the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta is expected to issue a ruling in the Elian Gonzalez case in just a few hours.

CNN national correspondent Gary Tuchman joins us from Atlanta to tell us what we can expect -- Gary.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Jeanne, at 3:00 Eastern time this afternoon, we expect this appellate court to decide if it will rehear a decision it made in the Elian Gonzalez case. It was a three- judge panel that, three weeks ago, decided that the 6-year-old boy is not entitled to an asylum hearing. But the court said the Miami relatives would have exactly two weeks to appeal and that Elian must stay in the country at least until that time.

Well, the family took exactly two weeks to appeal. Today, the decision is expected to be announced. If the decision is no, it is customary for the court to then have seven days to officially close the case, and then Elian could be free to go back to Cuba as soon as this Friday, seven days from now. However, if the court says yes, then there will be more hearings and Elian could be here throughout the summer, perhaps even into the fall.

Here's what's happening right now. The three judges on the panel that made the initial decision first had the chance to decide if they want to rehear the case. That is considered unlikely because they voted unanimously not to give Elian an asylum hearing. But then all of the 12 judges of this court are polled. If seven of the judges say they want to rehear the case, the case is then reheard.

Now, if there is a no answer today, it is very, very likely the Miami relatives will then appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, and also ask this court to keep Elian in the United States until that appeal is heard. So there are a lot of scenarios that could happen.

Now, the Miami relatives say the Immigration and Naturalization Service overstepped its authority by not allowing the 6-year-old to have an asylum hearing. The U.S. government and the father say, enough is enough, it's time for this boy to go back to Cuba. Elian has now been here seven months and we should learn a lot more at 3:00 Eastern time this afternoon.

This is Gary Tuchman, CNN, live in Atlanta. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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