Elian Case: "Let's Get This Resolved," Reno Says

July 7, 2008 - 7:25 PM

(CNSNews.com) - US Attorney General Janet Reno, facing a potentially violent showdown in the Elian Gonzalez case, Thursday appealed to the patriotism of Cuban-Americans, urging them to uphold the rule of law that prompted them to come to this country in the first place.

"I think it is important for everyone to speak in measured, thoughtful terms," she said

Reno began her weekly press conference by reading from a prepared statement. "This case has been heartbreaking for everybody involved," she said. "But we believe that the law is clear. The father must speak for the little boy - because the sacred bond between parent and child must be recognized and honored, and Elian should be reunited with his father."

Reno noted that a strong family unit has been the bedrock of Miami's Cuban-American community for forty years, ever since thousands of Cubans left an island they loved "because of Castro."

"The family worked together, the family was a strong and powerful structure in that community, and that has helped others understand the value of family."

It's not only family ties that Cuban-Americans should respect, Reno suggested.

"The people I know in the Cuban community came to this country and contributed so much to it because they believed in the rule of law. They came to this country seeking a democratic society in which to live, where all people can speak and there are processes and procedures for people to be heard.

"I don't think they came to this country to incite violence," she said.

Reno emphasized that until now, the federal government has been restrained in its approach, giving Elian's Miami relatives every opportunity to be heard, even though "no court order - nothing -- prevented us" from removing Elian from his Miami relatives.

Even when a federal court judge in Miami affirmed the INS ruling that Elian should go back to his father - "even then we did not move hastily," Reno said.

On Wednesday, Miami Mayor Joe Carollo said that Metro-Dade County police will not help federal authorities remove Elian Gonzalez from his Miami home if the Immigration and Naturalization Service revokes Elian's parole status and tries to force his immediate return to Cuba.

Corollo told the media, "The Miami Police Department will not participate in taking Elian Gonzalez away from his Miami family to be sent to Castro's hell."

The mayors of other Dade County municipalities also pledged not to assist federal authorities if they attempt to remove Elian.

In reaction to that development, Reno noted that the federal government has always been there to help local government officials in Florida, when Hurricane Andrew struck and when drugs seemed to be overwhelming the community.

"I think in this great country, which is operated on principles of federalism, the government in Miami will continue to uphold the law and to work with other law enforcement to see that the law is honored the right way."

She said negotiations are continuing Thursday, in an effort to work out a resolution that will ensure that Elian's Miami relatives have their appeal heard in a "timely" way. And she urged the boy's relatives to agree to honor the ruling that comes down in that appeal -- "in a prompt and orderly way."

"What we're trying to do is to make sure that we make sure we honor what Judge Moore said and try not to delay this. That we give them their day in court and the right for an appeal, and that there be an assurance that having done that, this matter can be resolved."

"If they don't get a stay in the Supreme Court, then let's get this resolved," she said.

Commenting on reports that Elian's father may come to Washington to bring his son home, Reno said it's always better when families work things out among themselves, leaving the federal government out of it.

"This is a nation where we expect our laws to be enforced, where we expect law enforcement to cooperate together, where we expect that matters will be resolved without violence - without threats of violence - and that they will be resolved in the courts, at the polls, and in other administrative proceedings.

"And with that in mind, I just think it's very important that we remember why we love this nation so much," said Reno.

It's because they love this nation so much, say Elian's supporters, that they are willing to fight so that Elian may have the opportunity to grow up here.