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Special Event

Eig: 'Elian Has Not Had His Day in Court'

Aired March 21, 2000 - 12:05 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: Spencer Eig, who is the attorney for the relatives in Miami, is holding a press conference there in Miami.

Let's listen to what he has to say.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

SPENCER EIG, GONZALEZ FAMILY ATTORNEY: ... and the federal court can hear their claim. And we're two-thirds of the way home. We respectfully do not agree with one conclusion of the decision. And in our wonderful system of law, we have the opportunity to bring our concerns forward.

We have evidence and arguments to present on the question of whether a child has the right to apply for asylum. And we look forward to doing so both again before this court and before the court of appeals.

The legal case of protecting the rights of Elian Gonzalez has been a long and up-and-down process. And today, there are more ups than downs. We look forward to making this a completely positive situation in the near future. And we, for the very first time, have a recognition that we have a place here in federal court where we can come to have our case heard.

Now to this point, this has not been a hearing, as you all know, previously on the merits of the Elian Gonzalez case on what is in the best interest of this child, but rather on technical points of federal law. Elian has not had his day in court.

But today's ruling gives us some hope that after we complete the entire legal process, including appeals and reconsiderations, he just may.

Thank you all very much.

MESERVE: You've been listening to Spencer Eig, an attorney for Gonzalez family relatives in Miami, saying they will appeal the decision today on Elian's future, which said that the attorney general is the one who has the right to make the decision about asylum in this case.

Let's go back now to Lucia Newman in Havana for more on reaction there -- Lucia. LUCIA NEWMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jeanne, obviously, what we have just heard is what everyone in this country was expecting. As I was saying earlier, U.S. officials have confirmed that, as of this moment, the boy's father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, has not applied for a visa to the United States, even though the court's decision was seen here on the Cuban side of this dispute as a victory, the drama is clearly not over yet.

Juan Miguel Gonzalez has said that he will only go to the United States, if and when, he has air-tight guarantees that he will going to fetch his child immediately, and not to go and fight for him in the U.S. court system. And as we have just heard now, from the lawyers of the child's Miami family, the drama in the courts, the fight for him in the courts to keep him in the United States, is clearly not over yet, Jeanne.

MESERVE: Lucia Newman in Havana, Cuba.

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