As Republicans Denounce Ins Tactics On Elian Gonzalez Case, a Look at the Militarization of US-Mexico Border and Conditions for Asylum Seekers

April 24, 2000

Angry Republicans this weekend denounced tactics used by INS agents in Saturday’s armed operation to retrieve Elian Gonzalez from his relatives’ home in Miami, and pledged to hold hearings on the issue.

Commenting on the dawn raid by heavily armed federal agents, Congressman Tom Delay, the House whip, declared outrageous and unconstitutional that "the US government, for the first time that I know of, has raided a private home without a court order." INS commissioner Doris Meissner denied the charge, saying the federal government had a warrant that allowed the agents to go into the house and take the child.

Orin Hatch, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he was outraged that the Clinton administration acted to take the boy before a court had decided whether he has the right to seek asylum in the US.

The six-year-old Elian is now with his father, stepmother and baby brother in Washington, DC. In the early morning hours of Saturday, he was taken by armed INS and Border Patrol agents and flown to Andrews Air Force Base outside the nation’s capital. The family now awaits a court decision on the asylum request.

As Republicans denounce the tactics of the INS and call for asylum rights to be granted to Elian, today we look at their involvement in the empowerment of the INS, which is now the largest law enforcement agency in the country. And what happens to asylum seekers not named Elian, but simply known as "alien?"


  • Cheryl Little, Executive Director the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center.
  • Nathan Selzer, from the "Casa Proyecto Libertad" a human rights organization on the Texas-Mexico border. Speaking from Harlingen, Texas, the epicenter of the INS’s Operation Rio Grande.
  • Francisco Aruca, host of a radio program at Radio Progreso in Miami.
  • Elena Frey, with the Cuban Committee for Democracy.