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CNN Today

Miami's Cuban Community Protests INS Decision to Return Elian Gonzalez to Father

Aired January 5, 2000 - 1:29 p.m. ET

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

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: The hour's top story is the decision by U.S. immigration officials to return six-year-old Elian Gonzalez to Cuba.

CNN's Susan Candiotti joins us now from Miami, where Elian has been living since Thanksgiving and where the INS ruling is not being warmly received -- Susan.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Natalie.

Let's take a live look now at what's happening out here at U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service headquarters here in Miami. As you can see, there are a number of demonstrators, police estimate about 100 or so, who have been waving flags, the Cuban flag, and have been chanting "justice and freedom for Elian."

For the most part, it has been a quiet demonstration, although there have been some heated exchanges at times when from time to time passers-by would pass by the crowd, people who disagree with their view, and there would be some discussions about that.

We do understand that these people here, for the most part, and other supporters who are against the notion of sending the boy back to Cuba, who are going to be forming a human chain around the Elian Gonzalez's home, that is the house where has been living with extended family members in the Little Havana section of Miami, they plan to form this as more-or-less a visualization of their disagreement with the immigration decision.

What is that decision? Well, the INS has ruled that, in their opinion, they boy's father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, has the sole legal authority to speak on behalf of his son, that it should be up to the father to decide in immigration matters what should happen to the boy, and it is clearly against the father's wishes that the boy be granted political asylum or that he stay in this country. As you know, the father wants him back with him in Cuba.

Now, again, we do know that in about 2 1/2 hours from now, the attorneys representing the boy's interests will try to mount a legal challenge to this. They will be filing legal documents at federal court in Miami to raise their objections to try and put a stop to all of this. Now, INS has not said how they expect this reunion to come about, however they are imposing a deadline of January the 14th. INS says it is willing to cooperate in any way possible with families on both sides of the Florida Straits to try to get both the father and the son back together again. Of course, those who disagree with the decision plan on trying to avoid that happening as best they can.

We do understand that the father in Cuba is overjoyed at this decision, but we have no world from him as to whether he has changed his mind about coming to Miami to escort his boy home. All of that perhaps might be worked out, it's possible, with some third parties, for example, some church groups who have offered their services to see what they can do.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, reporting live in Miami.

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