Another Elian Gonzalez Case?

September 2nd, 2007

Almost eight years after a raid on a Miami, Florida home, another case involving divorce law, immigration law, and diplomatic relations with Cuba is being decided in a Miami courtroom.

The New York Times reports that Rafael Izquierdo is fighting for his four-year-old daughter. Izquierdo is a farmer in Cuba who allowed the girl’s mother to bring her to the United States in 2005. Several months after their arrival, the girl’s mother attempted suicide and the girl and her half-brother were placed in foster care. The children, who have different fathers, were placed with Joe Cubas, a wealthy real estate developer, in 2006. Cubas is well known for helping Cuban baseball players defect to the United States.

Lawyers for Florida’s Department of Children and Families have argued that Izquierdo is not a fit father because he allowed his daughter to immigrate to the united with her mother, who he knew was unstable. Izquierdo’s lawyers dispute this claim. His lawyer said: “We want to keep the focus on whether or not a dad has the right to have his child. D.C.F. has not proven any neglect by our client Rafael.”

This case reminds us of Elian Gonzalez, who’s Cuban father came to the United States to be reunited with his son. Elian’s mother had drowned during the crossing and he had been placed with relatives in Miami. Anti-Castro immigrants held daily protests at the home where Elian lived and tried to prevent federal marshals from removing him from the house.

Bernard Perlmutter, a family law professor at the University of Miami who has followed both cases, said that “this matter is appropriately being adjudicated in a family court.”

In the Gonzalez case, Elian’s relatives produced what I’ve called the Bill Gates argument: Rather than being reunited with his father, Elian should remain in the United States with his relatives because they have the financial resources to give him a better life. If the court had accepted this argument, Bill Gates would have the right to select any child he wanted to raise as his own because he has greater financial resources than anyone else.