Gore Breaks With Clinton - Says Elian Should Stay
(CNSNews.com) - Vice President Al Gore has broken ranks with President Clinton over the Elian Gonzalez matter and says he now thinks the six-year-old boy should be granted "residency status" in the United States.
Gore aides are saying that the status of Elian's case, whether he should remain with relatives in Miami or be returned to his father in Cuba, should be handled by the family court system in Florida and not in federal court as Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno maintain.
In a statement released in Washington on Thursday, Gore said U.S. immigration laws do not allow a broad enough approach for settling the custody battle and said, "This should be handled in courts that could protect the young boy interests."
Gore added that immigration laws should not apply in Elian's case. In his statement, Gore said he is supporting legislation now before Congress sponsored by Senators Bob Graham (D-FL) and Bob Smith (R-NH) that would give permanent residence to Elian but also to his father and several relatives who may be sent by Cuban President Fidel Castro to retrieve the boy and bring him back to Cuba.
Texas Governor George W. Bush, Gore's likely presidential opponent, said he is glad the vice president is finally supporting the bill to make Elian a U.S. citizen. In January Bush called on Congress to grant the boy citizenship as soon as possible and not allow him to be returned to Cuba.
Bush, who has urged Attorney General Reno to use the authority she already has to permit this matter to be settled in a Florida family court, issued the following statement:
"I'm glad the Vice-President now supports legal residency for Elian Gonzalez. I wish he could convince the rest of the Administration of the wisdom of that approach. The Vice-President is an influential member of this Administration. I hope he'll use his influence to encourage the president and the attorney general to follow suit."