Despite the court's scolding of the INS for not interviewing the boy and its recognition of Elian's signature on a document requesting asylum as signifying that the six-year-old had, indeed, signaled legal interests separate from those of his father Reno still faces mounting pressure to make good on her vow to reunite the boy and his father immediately. That pressure will come, not least, from Juan Miguel Gonzalez, who came to the U.S. two weeks ago having been told that this was the only way to be reunited with his son, and has undertaken to remain on these shores pending the outcome of his relatives' appeal. But the only way to transfer Elian from his great-uncle to his father would appear to be by sending federal marshals through the throng of protesters around Lazaro Gonzalez's home in Little Havana, and that's an option for which Reno appears to have little stomach an impression underscored by increasingly vocal and public criticism from inside the Justice Department of her handling of the case. An offer Wednesday by the Miami relatives to allow a meeting between Elian and his father was rejected by the father's lawyers unless it resulted in custody for their client.
If Reno does plan to order an early removal of Elian from Little Havana, Thursday is her window of opportunity ahead of the Easter weekend. "But experienced negotiators also know that you don't move when the adrenaline is pumping, and the demonstrators around Lazaro's house will be braced for confrontation Thursday," says TIME Washington correspondent Elaine Shannon. "The feds are more likely to wait for fatigue to take its toll, and that's more likely to take this standoff into next week." Even then, it may take Juan Miguel Gonzalez going to court to get an order of his own to spur Reno into action.