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Elian Gonzalez's Relatives to Appeal to Supreme CourtAired June 23, 2000 - 5:55 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: We are now going to the attorney for the Miami relatives of Elian Gonzalez, Armando Gutierrez.
ARMANDO GUTIERREZ, MIAMI GONZALEZ FAMILY SPOKESMAN: This is a statement on behalf of Lazaro Gonzalez and Elian's U.S. family.
We remain convinced of the justice of Elian's cause, a cause of freedom for which his mother gave her life. We also believe that this historic case deserves consideration by the Supreme Court of the United States. As our attorneys have explained in legal terms, this cause is about whether a refugee child like Elian has the right to a fair hearing under our Constitution. So far, Elian has yet to receive a hearing or a day in court concerning his right to remain in this country.
This issue affects not only thousands of other refugee children, but also countless adult immigrants who stands on our soil.
But also, because of the 11th Court position is at odds with our majority of other federal appeals courts, we believe that the Supreme Court is the appropriate forum -- sorry; it's probably one of you guys calling -- because the 11th Circuit Court position is at odds with the majority of other federal appeals courts, we believe that the Supreme Court is the appropriate forum and indeed the only proper tribunal for resolving this issue and addressing the disagreement among federal courts across this land.
As our attorneys have also advised us, we believe that the Supreme Court is the best positioned to determine whether its own very recent decision in Christensen versus Harris County is at odds with the substantial grant of deference extended to the discretion of the INS in this current case.
The issue of judicial deference and proper agency functions are obviously critical here. Recently obtained government documents prove that the administration effectively collaborated with the Cuban government in deciding to deport Elian. That is not fair.
Even worse, the administration used an illegal paramilitary raid against an American family. Now Elian is under the control of the Cuban government in Washington, D.C., wearing a Young Communist bandana in our own capital. We do not lightly reach the conclusion that this case should be presented to the Supreme Court for its consideration. Nonetheless, after extensive study of this matter by our attorneys, we firmly believe that the monumental legal questions justify review by the highest court in our land.
We emphasize that the reality that if Elian is wrongly returned to Cuba, there is no power in our nation that can release him from the grasp of that island's communist dictator. Removal to a foreign country under any circumstances is recognized as having grave and irreversible consequences. In this case, the reality and the manifest folly of such removal are especially compelling circumstances which require the most thorough and careful examination of his rights to remain in this country.
As before, we will continue to proceed expeditiously as possible.
We expect our lawyers will file the appropriate papers with the Supreme Court on Monday. We're hopeful that our nation's Fourth of July celebration this year will be not tarnished by the removal of a child from this land of freedom to a land of gross violence and extensively documented human rights violations, all in tragic desecration of a dying mother's final prayer for her child.
That will be it.
QUESTION: Armando, why doesn't the family just say, "Enough, we're not getting anywhere"? Is there real concern right now, Armando, that the family has a real credible case with the Supreme Court; that they'll actually hear it? I mean, are they still holding strong or are they about to give up hope?
GUTIERREZ: They are not going to give up hope. I never heard of the Supreme Court hearing a winning case, you know, in other courts; that's why the Supreme Court was created.
If you look at the map of the United States, if Elian would have come in through the Panama Canal to California, the court up there would have given him an asylum hearing, and -- but it just happened he came through Florida
QUESTION: Are you surprised the court turned down the rehearing?
GUTIERREZ: Well, I don't want to say surprised because, you know, we -- you never know what the courts are going to do. But time -- you know, Elian was supposed to be in Cuba back in December when El Loco, Fidel Castro, said 72 hours, and he's still in the United States. And we hope he'll be here for the Fourth of July celebration.
QUESTION: What did the family have to say about it when they heard about it?
GUTIERREZ: Well, like I say...
QUESTION: How did they learn, and what was the...
GUTIERREZ: Well, they still very -- you know, they still are fighting for the right of Elian to have a day -- an asylum hearing, and they are still fighting for what his mother wanted and lost her life for.
QUESTION: The Supreme Court accepts 1 percent of all cases.
GUTIERREZ: I'm sorry.
QUESTION: The Supreme Court accepts 1 percent of all cases.
GUTIERREZ: Elian will save (UNINTELLIGIBLE). This could be a miracle. He could be the one case. WOODRUFF: You've been listening to Armando Gutierrez, a spokesman for the Miami relatives of Elian Gonzalez, indicating that those relatives plan to take their appeal to the United States Supreme Court. This in the wake of a circuit court ruling today denying a rehearing of the custody battle which, in effect, was a setback for these relatives.
We will have more on this breaking story, this developing story, coming up on "WORLDVIEW."
I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington.
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