- The Washington Times - Friday, March 29, 2002

Officials close to the case of four Tanzanian boys, detained for eight months after sneaking away from a Boy Scout gathering in Virginia last summer, say the boys shouldn't be rewarded for lying to the American government to gain entry into the country.
The four Boy Scouts ages 16 and 17 on Wednesday got their wish to move from an Immigration and Naturalization Service detainment facility in Berks County, Pa., to the home of a Swahili-speaking foster family in the Midwest, where they will remain until their asylum claim is resolved.
One government official familiar with the case said it has been drawn out. Shortly after the boys were detained by the INS, a high-powered law firm took interest in defending them as a way to bring publicity to what the firm calls the INS' "mistreatment of alien children."
If anything, these boys shouldn't be treated so leniently for the "fraudulent misinterpretation they made to the American government by entering the country on tourist visas, then trying to immigrate here," the source said on the condition of anonymity. "They've jumped the cue of other young people in their home country who may be trying to come to the United States through legal channels."
INS officials remian closelipped about the "politically charged" case. "We can't talk about asylum cases," said Karen Kraushaar, a spokeswoman at INS headquarters.
The Tanzanian boys were part of a contingency of Scouts from 26 foreign nations, which joined the 10-day National Scout Jamboree in Fort A.P. Hill, Va., in July. Toward the end of the Jamboree, they slipped away and apparently hitchhiked north.
Speaking Swahili and fragmented English, they turned up in the District a few days later, approaching a police officer late at night on New York Avenue in Northwest. The INS was contacted, putting an end to what had become an expanding FBI search for the boys.
Once in custody, the boys said they were seeking a better life and an opportunity to go to college in America. While coverage of their capture grew in U.S. and African newspapers their story developed, with the boys saying they feared persecution upon returning home because the Tanzanian government had sponsored their trip to America.
Tanzania, a nation in East Africa of about 35 million, is politically stable compared with other parts of Africa, having had a two-party democracy since 1992. It has been cited as one of the poorer African countries and it became the focus of a U.S. investigation after terrorists bombed the U.S. Embassy in August 1998 in the city of Dar es Salaam.
Asylum traditionally is granted to those fleeing religious or political persecution. Because of Tanzania's relative stability, some officials say, the boys are making a false claims. Mustafa Salim Nyang'anyi, the nation's ambassador to the United States, months ago said the idea the boys caused embarrassment to their government is "ridiculous," their families are "hard-working" and "relatively wealthy."
Others have asked, "When if ever will the boys finally be sent home?"
Still the law firm Latham and Watkins last fall began arguing pro bono on behalf of the boys as a way to show support for a Senate bill to reform the INS' treatment of unaccompanied juvenile aliens.
Attorney Andrew Morton says they had valid visas when they were detained and an INS judge ruled in November the boys could continue with their asylum claim without being deported.
Days later, however, INS prosecutors appealed the ruling, saying the boys lied by getting tourist visas when their real plans were to flee from the Boy Scout gathering. The goal of the appeal is to send the boys home.


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