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CNN Today

INS Not Expected to Intercede After Court Grants Miami Relatives Temporary Custody of Elian Gonzalez

Aired January 11, 2000 - 2:04 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: Developments today in the Elian Gonzalez case: INS officials say they will not forcibly remove the child from his relatives' Miami home to return him to Cuba by their Friday deadline. The agency is responding to a judge's decision to give temporary custody of Elian to his Florida relatives.

CNN's Mark Potter is watching the case for us today in Miami.

Hello, mark.

MARK POTTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Natalie.

Well, here in Miami, everyone is waiting now; waiting for the federal government to respond to that state judge's ruling that Elian must stay in the United States a custody hearing can be held on March 6. That, of course, opposes the INS decision that the boy should be returned to his father in Cuba by the end of this week.

Sources tell CNN that attorneys for both the Justice Department and the Immigration Service are still struggling with what to do in this case. That's why there has not been a public announcement. Sources say most of the attorneys feel that the state has no jurisdiction in this case, but there has long been a consensus in the federal government that it does not want to be in the position of physically grabbing the child and taking him back to Cuba. Many legal experts agree that the state judge in this case yesterday may have overstepped her bounds.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PROF. BERNARD PERLMUTTER, UNIV. OF MIAMI, CHILDREN & YOUTH LAW CLINIC: The court does not have jurisdiction even to hear the case; and secondly, because the father who was not given notice nor a right to be present and heard from prior to the entry of the order by the family court judge.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

POTTER: Of course, lawyers for the family here in Miami -- Elian Gonzalez's family disagree with that position and they praise the judge's ruling.

Meanwhile, Miami Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen says that when Congress goes back into session at the end of this month, she will sponsor a bill to make Elian a U.S. citizen in order to protect him from removal to Cuba.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN (R), FLORIDA: We have asked the White House, we have asked the Justice Department and Immigration to not intercede, to let the process take its proper shape, to let the judges decide in an impartial way; that this should not be done in administrative fashion, this should be done in an open way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

POTTER: Lawyers for the family here in Miami are expected to refile their petition soon with the INS asking, once again, that Elian be granted political asylum.

Mark Potter, CNN, reporting live from Miami.

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