Elian, go home

Ruling: Appeals court backs earlier ruling, declines to hear more, brings end nearer.

June 24, 2000

DISTANT RELATIVES trying to take Elian Gonzalez away from his father in the name of political asylum are used to being rebuked in the courts. Once more may not change their minds. They have one appeal left and are entitled to make it.

But the ruling of the 12-member 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta -- not to revisit the decision of its three-member panel that affirmed the right of Juan Miguel Gonzalez to speak for his son on immigration -- gave Miami relatives cold comfort.

No matter what they may shout, this is not about Fidel Castro. It is about the welfare of a 6-year-old boy who survived trauma at sea and the death of his mother.

Elian has, by all accounts, a good and loving dad whom he needs. Family law and American family values say Elian should be with his dad unless some horrendous issue compels otherwise. No court has found that any does.

No one can tell U.S. citizens not to appeal to the Supreme Court. That is their right. But many will sympathize with Juan Miguel Gonzalez, who asked his relatives to end their fight and asked the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to allow him to take Elian home.

The court came close to obliging. Although the relatives have seven days to appeal, the court order keeping Elian in the country expires at 4 p.m. Wednesday, and this court will not extend it.

It has been nice having Elian nearby. We can all be happy for him to have seen the National Aquarium in Baltimore and the National Zoo in Washington.

But he has missed too much school and his father has missed too much work, and the public attention can do him no good.

A big house in the Cleveland Park section of Washington is all very nice, but is not home. It is time for Elian to go home.

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