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Judge Dismisses Asylum for Elian

March 21, 2000

MIAMI (AP) _ A federal judge today dismissed the lawsuit aimed at keeping 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez in the United States, saying only the U.S. attorney general can grant asylum to the Cuban boy.

U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore’s ruling came 12 days after hearing arguments in the lawsuit filed by Elian’s great-uncle, Lazaro Gonzalez. Gonzalez wants to keep Elian, against the wishes of the boy’s father in Cuba.

``Determination to grant asylum is a matter within the discretion of the attorney general,″ Moore wrote.

The U.S. government had asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit, which asked the court to compel the Immigration and Naturalization Service to give Elian an asylum hearing.

Elian’s fate has been debated since he was found clinging to an inner tube off Florida on Nov. 25. His mother and 10 others drowned when their boat capsized during an attempt to reach the United States. The case has become a tug of war between the Cuban government and family members in the United States who want to raise the motherless boy.

In early January, the INS ordered that Elian be returned to his father, a decision backed by President Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno. The order was put on hold pending the court fight.

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