I am tired of seeing a 6-year-old used as a weapon and a prize in a game of politics [front page, Jan. 25]. Whatever happened to the traditional standard in dealing with juveniles: the best interest of the child?

This country has a history of giving custody to the biological parents unless evidence exists that they are unfit. The courts have ripped 3-, 4-, and 5-year-old children out of the arms of their adoptive parents (the only ones they have known) to return them to their biological parents.

Yet in this case, because the child's father is in Havana, Congress is willing to intervene to keep the child in the United States and away from his father and his maternal and paternal grandparents. Would Congress intervene if the child had come from England, Africa or Bosnia?

Congress better consider the precedent it will be setting--allowing children from all over the world to be taken away from their parents and brought here to be raised because the economic and political conditions are better.



The handling of the Elian Gonzalez case is outrageous. After the Immigration and Naturalization Service ruled that he, as an illegal immigrant and a minor with no legal guardian in the United States, must return to his country of origin, a Florida judge attempts to block his repatriation because she doesn't want him remanded to INS custody until his U.S. cousins' wishes can be considered.

Now Congress is considering conferring U.S. citizenship on Elian to remove him from INS jurisdiction so he can be made to stay here. The chief executive of the U.S. government has issued no substantive comment while his branch's authority in such matters as the disposition of illegal immigrants and other foreign persons is undermined.

All the while, the rights of the child's remaining parent are ignored, as is the fact that citizenship is not imposed without consent but conferred and only willingly received.

If the tables were turned, would there not be cries for vengeance and demands for invasion from incensed Americans? Where is our government's respect for its own laws and for the obligation to return a lost child, an obligation of decent conduct recognized in every part of the world?