|For Immediate Release
CPF Calls For Immediate Repatriation of Elián Gonzalez
NCFC Files Habeas Corpus Petition in U.S. Supreme Court
BOSTON, January 25, 2000Following the filing for a Writ of Habeas Corpus for the immediate return of Elián Gonzalez to his father in Cuba, and a comprehensive written analysis of Elián's situation made available to the Fatherhood Coalition, we reiterate our call for the immediate repatriation of Elián Gonzalez.
The National Congress for Fathers and Children, a national fathers rights organization, filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the U.S. Supreme Court on January 19. The petition requests the issuing of the habeas "for the release of Elián Gonzalez from restraint" by named respondents Miami Superior Court Judge Rosa Rodriguez, U.S. Rep. Dan Burton, and Lazaro Gonzalez, a great uncle of Elián residing in Miami.
According to a news release from NCFC: "The proper place for Habeas Corpus is in the Supreme Court since it is that court that can settle once and for all the question of applicable law and get right to the matter of the proper return of the child, Elián, to his father."
[The petition is available online at www.ncfc.net/eliansct.html and on the CPF web site at www.fatherhoodcoalition.org/cpf/newreadings/Elian-NCFC-habeus.htm ]
The Fatherhood Coalition agrees that sovereign and international law is clear that, absent any legitimate concern for Elián's safety, he should be immediately returned to his father.
Last week, Mark A. Richards, M.S., M.A., Psy.D, an extensively credentialed clinical psychologist, and CEO and President of the Honisa Behavioral Treatment Center in Chicago, released a comprehensive 39-page report on Elián's situation. The report, titled "Elián González: How Many T-shirts and Banners Must He Become?" is available online at www.fatherhoodcoalition.org/cpf/newreadings/Dr.Richards-on-Elian.htm .
Richards' report details the history of the tragic, ill-fated boat trip that killed 11 of 14 Cubans aboard, including Elián's mother, while attempting to reach the U.S. shores.
Since Elián's rescue, anti-Castro politics in Florida and posturing by U.S. politicians and presidential candidates have created an international brouhaha over what should be a non-controversial matter decided by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.
On Jan. 5, INS Commissioner Doris Meissner announced their decision to repatriate Elián. At the press conference, Meissner stated, "Both United States and international law recognize the unique relationship between parent and child, and family reunification has long been a cornerstone of both American immigration law and INS practice."
"This little boy, who has been through so much, belongs with his father. We urge everyone involved to understand, respect and uphold the bond between parent and child and the laws of the United States," concluded Meissner.
Attorney General Janet Reno later agreed: "He has a father, and there is a bond between father and son that the law recognizes and tries to honor. We have no information that would indicate that the legal connection, that bond, should not be honored."
New cultural climate in which fathers must prove their fitness is criticized
In his paper, Dr. Richards calls attention to the rising tide of fatherlessness in the U.S.A. as well as the inherent bias against father custody in our courts:
"Putting aside politics, ideology, and immigration policies for the moment, this international tug-of-war and best interests of the child debate is far more sinister than most of us realize, and these issues should give us all great pause. Why must fathers in the U.S., and now everywhere in our global family of cultures, have to prove they are fit, subject themselves to second-class citizenship and gender bias on innumerous levels, while the motherhood mystique, while mothers for that matter, enjoy our instant support in the fabric of every layer of our cultural norms and roles, our societal institutions, and the judiciary framework of the domestic relations courts?
Double standard cited
Dr. Richards raises the issue of double standards inherent in child custody cases:
"If the table was turned on this tug-of-war, and we were talking about a mother who was in Cuba and wanted her child back, then Elián would have celebrated his 6th birthday in Cuba rather than in Miami, Florida. Instead of Elizabet, Eliáns mother being on that boat, if it would have been his father who had drowned taking Elián from Cuba away from his mother, would we still be having mania over Elián? Would we still be anointing Juan Miguel, Eliáns father with sainthood and immortalizing him for eternity in the psyche of the plurality of voices in our global family of cultures vying for their right to reality? Or as Kathleen Parker (1999) asks us to reflect on, would we be 'vilifying him and the stepmother for kidnapping the child and risking his life by placing him on a motorboat overloaded with human cargo.' Maybe as Parker asks us to consider, 'Juan Miguel deserves not only his son, but an apology and, perhaps, a congressional medal for self-restraint.'"
Fatherhood Coalition formed to speak to the larger issues
The Fatherhood Coalition was formed to address father absence and to expose the dark forces that work to undermine the father-child relationship. Recognizing fathers as a threatened species, we initially chose the name Coalition for the Preservation for Fatherhood, which has since been acronymized and incorporated into our present name: CPF-The Fatherhood Coalition.
We maintain that our society is presently undergoing a profound transformation with respect to the fissioning of the nuclear family. In his paper, Dr. Richards quotes Wade Horn, President of the National Fatherhood Initiative, when he refers to the crisis afflicting the institution of fatherhood:
"...we need to reflect on what Dr. Wade F. Horn asks, will fathers become extinct in the next century? He [Horn] argues that this question would have been unthinkable 100 years ago. Is the Elián González case another confirmation that dads are disappearing? Is this case another unsettling instance to reflect on the 'question whether fathers will survive the next century is unsettled?' Horn reports that nearly 40 percent of all children live absent their biological father. Fifty percent of the children who dont live with their father, according to Horn, 'have never even stepped foot in their fathers home.' Is Elián González doomed to become a statistic, as Horn highlights, where Elián becomes part of the cohort of more than half of the children in the United States today who will spend half of their childhood in a father-absent household. Fatherless children, Horn asks us to reflect on, are more likely to fail at school or drop out, suffer an emotional or behavioral problem requiring psychiatric treatment, engage in early and promiscuous sex, and commit crime."
Children can't speak for themselves in U.S. courts, yet 6-year-old Elián must testify before Congress
On Jan. 7, U.S. Representative Dan Burton, R-Indiana, a defendant in the NCFC suit, issued a subpoena for Elián González to appear before his House Government Reform Committee. The Fatherhood Coalition points out the hypocrisy inherent in child custody jurisprudence whereby for political purposes it is not considered inappropriate to have a 6-year-old boy testify before a Congressional bodyyet in our family courts, teenagers are routinely prevented from testifying on their own behalf when they wish to live with their fathers.
Elaborate and costly safeguards are put in place to prevent custody judgments favorable to fathers. The courts appoint investigators and attorneys to act as "the eyes and ears of the court," not just for infants and young children, but for adolescents who in other respects are considered competent to express their opinions in their own words. Family court judges have been known to refuse to even read a signed affidavit from fifteen year-oldswhen the youth's expressed wish is to live with his father. The court-appointed investigators are relied upon to faithfully make recommendations consistent with the courts' standard operating procedure: fathers must not be awarded custody of their own children.
What about Harry Stewart's sons?
We don't need to look to Miami and Cuba to gain an understanding of what we refer to as the War on Fatherhood. Harry Stewart is serving a 6-month sentence at the Norfolk County House of Correction in Dedham, MA. His crime? Violating a domestic abuse protection (ch. 209A) order by getting out of his car when he returned his son to his ex-wife following a visitation. Stewart had been fighting several similar charges of "domestic violence," and was eventually jailed when he refused the terms of probation: entering an orwellian batterer's intervention program. Stewart was required by the program to sign an eight-page, self-incriminating admission document, which by signing he would have admitted to committing domestic violence.
Throughout the nation, children are routinely forcibly separated from their loving fathers under the rubric of "the best interests of the child." This is a time for everyone to start focusing on the tremendous injustices that are perpetrated against our own children by our nation's courts.
|For further information, contact:|
Robert A. Hirschfeld, JD
Dr. Mark A. Richards
CPF - The Fatherhood Coalition
A non-profit, all volunteer organization of men and women advocating for fatherhood since 1994