British couple and baby detained in US for ‘accidentally’ crossing border from Canada after taking wrong turn
‘We will be traumatised for the rest of our lives’
A British family has been detained in the US for accidentally crossing the border from Canada after taking a wrong turn.
David Connors, 30, and wife Eileen, 24, claim they were locked up with their three-month-old son after swerving to avoid an animal in Vancouver and detouring onto an unmarked road.
They were pulled over by police, who told them they had crossed an international border into Washington, US, and allegedly arrested them without letting them turn back towards Canada.
Mr Connors’ brother, Michael Connors, his wife Grace and their two-year-old twin daughters were also allegedly detained, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
In a statement provided by the family’s lawyer, Bridget Cambria, Ms Connors said they were flown to Berks Family Residential Centre, on the other side of the country in Pennsylvania, and denied the right to contact their embassy.
She added that the family had been left “traumatised” by their experience, and subjected to “frigid and filthy” conditions.
Ms Cambria, of Aldea – The People’s Justice Centre, has filed a complaint on behalf of the family with the US Department of Homeland Security inspector general.
“They had no idea they had crossed any boundary,” she told a press conference, the Inquirer reports.
“They had no idea they were even in the United States. They were just trying to get back to their hotel.”
US immigration officials confirmed the family were being held, but denied the couple’s allegations of mistreatment and inhumane conditions.
In a sworn statement, Ms Connors says the family was separated during their first night, with her husband sent to a male-only cell, while she and their baby were kept in a women’s cell.
Mr Connor was later taken to a detention centre in Tacoma, Washington, while his wife and son were taken to a budget hotel near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, according to the BBC.
They were flown to Pennsylvania the following day, where they were taken to the Berks centre.
Ms Connors claims the cells they are being held in are “frigid” and that she has struggled to keep her son warm.
“When I ask how I am supposed to keep my baby warm in this horrible cold, all they tell me is to put a hat on him,” she said in her statement, the Inquirer reports.
“They even took away one of his formula containers, which I had to beg for three days for them to return it to me.”
The mother said she had been given blankets that smelled like “dead dog” and that her son has developed blotchy skin and what appears to be an eye infection.
“We have been treated like criminal, stripped of our rights, and lied to,” she added.
“We will be traumatised for the rest of our lives by what the United States government has done to us.”
The Independent has contacted US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for comment.