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CNN Today

Elian Gonzalez Case Enters Political Arena With Effort to Subpoena to Congress

Aired January 7, 2000 - 1:00 p.m. ET

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

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Elian's American relatives plan to ask a state court to name a temporary guardian and a federal court to block that INS decision. And Congress now seems to be getting into the act.

Let's check in with CNN's Bob Franken up on Capitol Hill to see what that's all about -- Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, President Clinton today asked once again that this be kept out of the political process, allowed to stay in the legal process, but it's too late to keep it out of the political process.

See, Republican members of the House of Representatives from the Miami area and Senator Connie Mack, Florida Republican, are asking the Republican chairman of the House Government Reform Committee to subpoena the young man in the hope that that would cause a delay and force the INS to keep him in the country until Congress reconvenes on January 24th.

At that time, there will be members of the House of Representatives and Senate who will be presenting legislation, it's usually called private legislation, which would confer citizenship or at least permanent residency status on the six-year-old, and that, they hope, would cause this child to be kept in the United States. The problem is that it is exceedingly difficult to pass this legislation unless everybody is in agreement, and not everybody in Congress is in agreement. Otherwise, it could be delayed for a long time. But delay is what this is all about.

Now, as for Congressman Dan Burton, who's the chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, the reason they went to his committee, it is the only one that can issue a subpoena when Congress is out of session. But now he doesn't exactly know what to do, whether to approve this subpoena. He's meeting with his lawyers to find out if, when this gets back into the legal process, it would stand up. So, we're waiting to hear from Chairman Burton. We may or may not if they can figure out what to do -- Lou.

WATERS: You mention it's too late to keep politics out of it. We heard from the Gonzalez family spokesman saying we want the president to allow this boy to have his day in court. Isn't that exactly what the president was saying early in the day, let the legal -- the judicial system take care of this and keep the politics out of it?

FRANKEN: Well, some of the question is whether or not the judicial system in the form of the immigration and naturalization service, INS, has already in fact adjudicated this. This is what is being decided. Let's not lose sight of the fact that when somebody has a cause, legal maneuvering and political maneuvering usually are two tools at the command of the people. Right now there is this effort to try and delay having Elian to leave the United States, but of course there could be some sort of compromise that's worked out. The effort to bring this before Congress is just one effort to try and delay things.

WATERS: OK, much more to follow on this story from Capitol Hill. Bob Franken joining us today.

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