Gonzales vs. Reno Case Analysis

Gonzales vs. Reno Case Analysis

Case description

The plaintiff in this case is Elian Gonzalez, was a six-year old child who arrived in the United States from Cuba alone. The child’s father demanded that the plaintiff be returned by the United States to Cuba. However, contrary to the father’s wishes, the plaintiff asked to stay in the United States therefore making an application for asylum. Immigration and Naturalization service in the United States had to consult with the plaintiff’s father as well as consider the age of the plaintiff (Aleinikoff, Fullerton & Martin, 2016). Therefore, the office found that the asylum application was legally void and declined to consider the application’s merits. This forced the plaintiff to visit the federal court where the INS filed a suit seeking to compel for consideration as well as determination of the merit (Aleinikoff et al., 2016). However, the plaintiff’s application was also dismissed by the district court in regards to his asylum application (Aleinikoff et al., 2016). The paper will discuss, describe and assess the discretion afforded in Gonzales vs. Reno’s case.

Court’s Ruling

Appealing the district court’s ruling, the plaintiff argued that it erred by dismissing his claim under his due process claim including the failure to appoint a mature guardian who would be capable to represent his interests. The court determined that the plaintiff’s claim lacked merit quoting that aliens in the United States have no constitutional rights when making admission applications in the United States (Aleinikoff et al., 2016). Moreover, the court argued that his friend represented the plaintiff in the court. The court described the situation as a scenario that does not warrant any extended discussion as it lacked merit. Based on statutory claims, the plaintiff argued that the court erred through its rejection to the alien application made by his cousin, Lazaro (Aleinikoff et al., 2016).


Assessing the Case

The law indicates that any alien who has been confirmed to be physically present in the United States, who crosses the United States after interdiction in International waters or who is brought to the United States by other means, is allowed to make any application for asylum where applicable (Aleinikoff et al., 2016). When an alien makes such application within the statute’s meaning or within the INS regulation, the United States has the responsibility of making careful considerations for claims of asylum applications. The office of the Attorney General is tasked with establishing necessary procedures for the asylum application considerations filed under all the necessary sections of the constitutions. However, the main question that should have been analyzed by the court is in regards to whether the asylum application filed on plaintiff’s behalf who is a six-year child was submitted against the child’s parent express wishes.

Case Discussion

The United State’s statutory is silent regarding that particular issue meaning that there is a gap left by the Congress regarding the statutory scheme. This particular gap is significant because it brings about executive discretion. It is a matter of executive as opposed to the court to enforce statutes capable of filling such gaps. In addition, the executive has the authority needed to fill in the gaps in regards to immigration policy (Aleinikoff et al., 2016). In this case, the validly of plaintiff’s alleged asylum application was underdetermined since the law is silent regarding the discretionary policy made by the INS. There ought to be careful selection as far as non-parental representation in light of a reasonable immigration policy.


Aleinikoff T., Fullerton M., Martin D. (2016). Immigration and Nationality Laws of the United States: Selected Cases. Minnesota. West Academics Publishers.


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