(May 7, 2000)size>State Department officials are concerned about a quick resolution of the Elian Gonzalez case because of its potential impact on as many at 1,100 parental reunification cases involving U.S. citizens where the child is outside the U.S.
"The principle of reunification of a parent and a child is a principle that we believe in very strongly when we advocate on behalf of American citizens overseas," says spokesman James Rubin.
State Department consular officials work on cases which involve parents in the United States whose children may have been taken to another country, either by another parent or perhaps because the child has been abducted by an unknown person.
To be successful in their attempts at reuniting the parent in the U.S. with their child, American officials need the cooperation of government officials abroad.
"...Our consular affairs officers...are concerned that the preeminence of that reunifiction principle be upheld," says Rubin, "so that when they go to a foreign government that foreign government doesn't say to them, 'Well, look at the Elian Gonzalez case; you didn't follow that principle, therefore we're not going to work as hard on your behalf.'"
Rubin said each case is a little different, and he emphasized the principle of parental reunification was what the State Department was concerned withnot the specifics of the Elian Gonzalez case.
Still, the irony can't be avoided: seeing young Elian returned to his father's custody is one of the few issues the Clinton administration and Fidel Castro seem to agree on.
By CHARLES WOLFSON