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Background: I recently partnered with Dr. Ned Holstein and Fathers & Families in a campaign to protest Florida Department of Children & Families' actions in the "Elian Gonzalez II" case in Miami. In that case, Rafael Izquierdo, a fit, loving father, has faced numerous obstacles to reunite with his 5-year-old daughter. Thousands of you answered our call to action, and the campaign has been covered or cited in hundreds of newspapers. Florida DCF, to its credit, met with us last week. To learn more or to join our campaign, click here. Florida Governor Charlie Crist (pictured) has sent out the letter below to those who have joined our protest campaign. We knew, of course, that he couldn't discuss the Izquierdo case directly, but our larger concern is the child welfare system's disregard for fathers, an issue Crist's letter doesn't address. To be fair, I'll give Crist credit for responding, and also for acknowledging to the press that it has been a sizeable protest campaign. I suspect that one reason DCF has acted as it has is that Governor Crist seeks the loyalty, votes, and campaign donations of the large Cuban-American community. Crist (correctly) sees defeating Rafael Izquierdo and keeping his five-year-old girl in the US against his will as a way to win Cuban-American votes. In Florida, sticking it to Cuba's government is a crowd-pleaser, similar to the way politicians win popularity by beating up on "deadbeat dads." Crist's letter is below. Thank you for contacting Governor Charlie Crist. The Governor appreciates your concerns about the Izquierdo child custody case and asked me to respond on his behalf. Governor Crist wants to know how people feel about the many critical issues we face. Rest assured, the Governor is committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of all children in Florida. The Department of Children and Families is charged with assisting abused and neglected children. The department does this by providing support services to children and their families, and, in some cases, by providing a place outside of the home for children to live while their family problems are resolved in the courts. Governor Crist appreciates your sharing suggestions for changes to the department"s procedures. It is our understanding the Department of Children and Families has communicated with Dr. Ned Holstein to discuss these very issues. Thank you again for contacting the Governor"s office. Please do not hesitate to write in the future to share your concerns about issues that are important to you. Sincerely, Warren Davis Office of Citizen Services

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