Democratic Congressman Slams Gore Over Switch in Elian Case

July 7, 2008 - 8:25 PM

( - Rep Joseph Moakley, the dean of the all-Democratic Massachusetts congressional delegation, has attacked Vice President Al Gore for his flip flop in the case of six year old Elian Gonzalez, the Cuban child whose custody and immigration status is at the heart of a growing domestic and international controversy.

Moakley, who has endorsed Gore in his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, told the Boston Herald, "I was very surprised and very disappointed with Gore," who has called on Congress to offer the child, his father, stepmother, half brother, grandmothers and grandfather permanent U.S. residency. "Gore is wrong, dead wrong. It's a kidnapping. If another nation did it, we'd scream bloody murder."

The Clinton Administration is opposed to the Gore suggestion

Moakley insisted the proposed congressional action would have a harmful impact on custody laws, and said the vice president may have been unduly influenced by pressure from Florida's Cuban-American community, a critical voting bloc in the Sunshine State. "They are so strong and so political, they impact our Cuban policy. If this kid was from Haiti, he would be a blip on the radar screen."

The Congressman, who met with the child's grandmothers when they visited Washington, D.C. earlier this year, said the issue should be addressed as a child custody concern and urged that the youngster be reunited with his father. "If this was an American kid being held in Cuba, we'd be sending in the Marines," said Moakley.

Moakley, who is scheduled to visit Cuba in two weeks, said he would be willing to act as an envoy in helping to resolve the dispute, but said he doubted that would be necessary. "I'm on the same side as Castro on this," he added.

U.S. Rep. Marty Meehan, another Massachusetts Democrat and Gore supporter, said congressional action "further politicizes a case that is already highly political."

Should the child and his father be granted permanent U.S. residency, the custody battle would revert to a Florida family court, rather than remain under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, where it now rests.