March 17, 2013
Gonzalez v. Reno, 212 F.3d 1338 (2000).
Elian Gonzalez, a six-year-old boy, boarded a boat with his mother to leave Cuba and sail to the United States. During the passage, the boat capsized. Elian’s mother died, along with ten other passengers. Elian’s father was still in Cuba. After being admitted to a local hospital, Elian’s great-uncle Lazaro Gonzalez contacted the Immigration and Naturalization Service (“INS”). A few days later, Lazaro petitioned for asylum on Elian’s behalf. Not long after, another petition for asylum was filed, signed by Elian. A third request for asylum was then filed by Lazaro on Elian’s behalf after he was awarded temporary custody in a state court action. The three petitions were similar, citing that Elian was afraid to return to Cuba alleging persecution and the potential of being used as a propaganda tool for the Cuban government. Elian’s father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, had sent a letter to Cuban officials requesting that Elian be returned to Cuba. This letter was subsequently forwarded to the INS.
The Commissioner of the INS rejected all of the petitions for asylum on January 5, 2000. He determined that a six-year-old child does not have the capacity to petition for his own asylum against his parent’s wishes. The plaintiffs requested that the Attorney General overrule this decision, but the Attorney General decided not to do so. Plaintiff then filed a complaint in district court, but the claims were rejected and the complaint was dismissed. Plaintiff then appealed to the Florida Court of Appeals.
1. Whether, Elian, as a minor, can petition for asylum on his own behalf. 2. Whether Lazaro, as a non-custodial adult relative, can petition for asylum on Elian’s behalf. 3. Whether Elian’s allegations of potential persecution are sufficient to petition for asylum. RULE:
The Court reviewed 8 U.S.C. § 1158, and its interpretation....
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