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[Congressional Record: May 8, 2000 (House)]
[Page H2617-H2618]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []


  Mr. STEARNS. Madam Speaker, I come to the House floor to not talk 
about the debate whether Elian should be reunited with his father or 
not. I think the majority of Americans say he should. What I am here to 
talk about is the constitutionality of what was done by the Justice 
Department, and to pose some questions and urge our leadership on this 
side to hold hearings.
  Regrettably, the American people, the Miami relatives of Elian 
Gonzalez and the Congress still do not have all of the answers which 
led up to the events that transpired on that Easter recess by the 
Justice Department and the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
  Madam Speaker, of course, the world has seen that famous photograph 
by now of an INS SWAT officer pointing an assault rifle at Elian, that 
assault rifle was a Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine gun.
  The Attorney General during Easter weekend, ordered armed forces into 
the house of Mr. Lazaro Gonzalez in order to free Elian and reunite him 
with his father.
  What the world, Americans and Congress do not know are the events 
that led up to activities that transpired during and after the 
government's raid on a private citizen's home, just as the Congress did 
in the case of the Waco and Ruby Ridge. I think it is the 
responsibility of this legislative branch to seek the truth and have 
government justify its actions in instances in which the sacred 
constitutional liberties of Americans have been jeopardized.
  Madam Speaker, I submit this afternoon that there are many questions 
that still need to be answered, and we are not here to debate whether 
Elian should be reunited with his father. Those are answers that 
ultimately will be left up to the courts.
  While the court struggles with the issue of immigration and family 
law, the Congress has the duty and responsibility to seek answers to 
the policies of the Justice Department that led up to the heavily armed 
Federal agents breaking into the house of peaceful American citizens, 
with agents pointing machine guns at American citizens in their own 
home and trashing their own home, too.
  Just as important, oversight is needed to determine whether the 
judicial process was circumvented by the administration. Reports 
indicate that the nature by which the search warrants were issued were 
made under false pretenses. How many different judges did the 
administration go to before having the search warrant accepted? Did any 
of the judges refuse to issue a search warrant, and if so, on what 
  During the early days of Elian's arrival in the United States, the 
Justice Department and the INS were quick to point out that asylum and 
custody questions could only be answered in the courts.
  What is the policy of the Department of Justice and INS when State 
courts do not agree with Federal agencies? Does the Attorney General 
have the power to overrule the decisions of State courts such as ones which 
decide custody measures?
  In addition, Madam Speaker, why was the Justice Department not 
willing to await the outcome of Elian's claim for asylum before the 
11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals? What does that say about how much 
weight the administration gives to our judicial branch of the 
  How will the Attorney General justify her actions if the 11th Circuit 
decides Elian's asylum claims are true in manners which contradict the 
Department's actions?
  What constitutional authority does the Federal Government have in 
executing search warrants in cases that are not criminal? In how many 
other cases has the INS broken down doors and used armed agents in 
custody cases?
  Additionally, why did the Attorney General feel compelled or 
pressured to use overwhelming armed force when Elian's life was not in 
  The negotiations were still taking place at the time the INS broke 
down the door and trashed the Gonzalez house. Should it be the policy 
of the INS to present the possibilities of deadly force when 
confronting situations which are not criminal? Additionally, Gregory 
Craig, the attorney for Juan Miguel, also happened to be the attorney 
for the President during the impeachment trials.
  Elian's Miami relatives and the American people have a right to know 
what role Gregory Craig played during the shaping of the Department's 
actions. Furthermore, what contact did the administration have with the 
Communist dictator Fidel Castro?
  Was the President influenced by another Cuban boat lift? These are 
some of the questions I have, Madam Speaker. I call on Congress to hold 
hearings because the people across this Nation have a right to know. As 
Americans, we have inalienable rights to certain freedoms and 
protections. When government officials threaten or encroach on those 
rights, it is our duty to hold them responsible.