A photo shows Cuban President Fidel Castro with Elian Gonzalez during a sixth-grade graduation ceremony in Cardenas in 2005. File photo by Randy Rodriguez/EPA
Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Elian Gonzalez garnered international attention as the 6-year-old Cuban boy at the center of a custody battle that highlighted the divide in public sentiment over U.S. immigration policy. Now he is making headlines again, this time for his political rise in Cuba.
Gonzalez, now 29, has been nominated for a seat in Cuba's National Assembly. According to CNN, Gonzalez is expected to join the 470-member body, making him one of the younger lawmakers in that nation's parliament.
Communist-party news organization Granma said Gonzalez is "representing the most worthy of the Cuban youth." The Cuban National Assembly holds several meetings throughout the year for representatives of municipal governments to discuss policy, according to The Guardian.
Gonzalez was famously deported from Miami to Cuba following a raid of a home he was living in with relatives in April 2000. Gonzalez had migrated to the United States on Thanksgiving Day in 1999 at 5 years old. He was discovered miles from the coast of Fort Lauderdale, holding onto an inner tube. His mother drowned on the journey.
Gonzalez was taken in by family members in Miami while his father waged a battle for custody of the child, seeking to bring him back to Cuba. The U.S. government was hesitant to get involved until Immigration and Naturalization Services ultimately decided to intervene in January 2000. His family in Miami continued to pursue asylum for Gonzalez, but a lengthy back and forth that played out in courts and the media ended with U.S. federal agents pulling Gonzalez from the arms of a family member while hiding in a closet, a rifle aimed in his direction.
Since being the subject of daily headlines, Gonzalez has lived outside of the public eye for the better part of the last 22-plus years. His ascension to the National Assembly will change that.
Gonzalez has since been a critic of the United States, blaming its immigration policies for the death of his mother and many others attempting to flee Cuba.