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Elian Gonzalez Case: Justice Department Makes New Offer to Florida Relatives

Aired April 14, 2000 - 1:11 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 Justice Department made a new offer today in hopes of avoiding an angry confrontation in the Elian Gonzalez case. If Elian's Florida relatives give up custody voluntarily, the government says it will keep the boy in the United States until a court fight over political asylum is settled. It appears that would delay Elian's return to Cuba until May at the earliest. For now, Elian remains at his great uncle's home in Miami.

CNN's Susan Candiotti joins us by telephone. Outside the home there's a big storm moving across Miami. We've lost our video signal temporarily because of that.

Here's Susan.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Natalie.

With rain pouring down here in Little Havana the mood is dreary. People are huddled under buildings, under tents and the like. And on this day the family will be briefed on the government's official reaction to the granting of a temporary stay preventing the boy from being taken back to Cuba pending further court review.

In written arguments, the Justice Department contends the court should issue an order forcing the family to comply with an INS directive to surrender 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez so that he can be reunited with his father in Washington. The government also contends that, if the family voluntarily hands the boy over to his father, the government will assure Elian will not leave the U.S. with his father until his appeals are exhausted.

Now they would do that with something called a departure control order. One of the attorneys representing the Florida relatives tells CNN that he has not yet received the legal brief, and until he reads it he will have no comment. However, other lawyers are suspicious the boy's father would observe any such order.

The court of appeals is expected to rule on whether to extend that temporary injunction as early as today, and not only the crowds have indeed dwindled here because of the heavy rain, no doubt, on this rain-soaked day with thunder and lightning, as the Florida relatives and their supporters wait for the next move by the Justice Department as well as the court of appeals -- Natalie.

ALLEN: All right, Susan Candiotti reporting on the Gonzalez case from Miami.

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