British family detained more than a week after accidentally crossing US-Canada border: report

A British family has spent days detained in multiple locations across the U.S. after accidentally crossing the border from Canada, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

The Connorses, two couples and their three young children, were driving near the border between Canada and the United States on Oct. 3 during a trip to Vancouver. An animal reportedly walked into the road, and the family took a detour around it. 

They were stopped that night by an American officer, who told them they crossed into the U.S., the Post reported.

{mosads}According to a complaint filed by the family Friday to the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, this was when their trip became “the scariest experience of our lives.” Eileen Connors, one of the mothers on the trip, alleges that she and the rest of her family, including her 3-month-old son, have been detained at the Berks Family Residential Center in Leesport, Pa., for more than a week in “frigid” and “filthy” conditions.

Connors said when the family was initially stopped in Washington state, her husband and his cousin were arrested. She alleges that they were not read their rights and she and her baby were placed in “a very cold cell” at a Border Patrol station. The family’s attorney told the Post that the cells are nicknamed “Hieleras” or “iceboxes”

“We will never forget, we will be traumatized for the rest of our lives by what the United States government has done to us,” Connors wrote in a sworn statement, later adding, “We have been treated like criminals here, stripped of our rights, and lied to. … It is undoubtedly the worst experience we have ever lived through.”

“The officers left us in the cell the entire day, with no information, no call to our family back home, no idea when we would be free to leave,” she continued.

After reportedly spending the night in the cell with “metal-like, thin emergency blankets,” authorities told the family they could be released from detention if they provided the contact information for a family member living in the U.S.

{mossecondads}A relative with U.S. citizenship tried to help, but the family was later informed that there was “a change in plans.”

The family alleges that they were then taken to a van in “what felt like an abduction or kidnapping.” David Connors, Eileen Connors’s husband, was taken to the Tacoma Northwest Detention Center. Eileen Connors and the 3-month-old baby were taken to a Red Roof Inn in Seattle.  

When they were taken to the Seattle airport the next day, Connors wrote that she thought “finally we’re going home.” But the family landed in Pennsylvania and was taken to the Berks Family Residential Center, a facility some advocates have called “baby jail,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The other couple and their 2-year-old twins were also taken to Berks, according to the family’s attorney.

Connors alleges that she had to bathe her son on a couch using a washcloth because he was too small for the facility’s showers. She said the bathtub he was given was “filthy dirty and had broken bits,” and her son was left without clothing, blankets or bibs because the center’s staff took the items to be washed.

“The blankets and sheets in our room have a disgusting smell, like a dead dog,” Connors wrote. “I cannot use them to wrap up my baby for fear they haven’t been washed properly and my baby will become sick.”

Connors said her son woke up Friday with his left eye “swollen and teary” and his skin was “rough and blotchy.” Officials at the center said the child could be taken from the center, but he would be separated from his parents.

The Connorses also claim that they were not given the opportunity to call their embassy. In her statement, Connors said officials only told her the British embassy tried to contact her family on Oct. 7, but the staff did not tell the family until it was too late in the day to call.

As of late Monday, the British family was still waiting to be deported, an attorney told the Post. The attorney said the family was hoping to leave as soon as Tuesday.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) disputed the family’s claims of mistreatment to the Post. 

In a statement to The Hill, ICE said the Berks Family Residential Center “provides a safe and humane environment for families as they move through the immigration process” and that the family has had access to U.K. consular officials. 

Tags ICE Immigration Immigration and Customs Enforcement
See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video