US deports British family and deny they crossed border accidentally ‘after taking wrong turn to avoid animal in road’
‘I’m so happy to be home, it’s been a complete nightmare,’ says mother
A British family has been deported after American officials denied the group accidentally crossed the US border “after taking a wrong turn to avoid an animal in the road”.
David Connors, 30, and his wife Eileen, 24, claim they were locked up with their three-month-old son after detouring onto an unmarked road and mistakenly crossing the border from Vancouver while holidaying in Canada.
However US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has disputed their account – accusing the London family of deliberately driving through a ditch at the boundary.
Officials also claimed two adults in the group, which also included Mr Connors’ brother Michael, his wife Grace, and their two-year-old twin daughters, were previously denied entry into the US.
The CBP added: “A vehicle was observed via remote video surveillance system turning west onto Avenue 0 in British Columbia, Canada, at approximately 9pm, 2 October.
“The vehicle then turned south and entered the US illegally, by slowly and deliberately driving through a ditch onto Boundary Road in Blaine, Washington.
“The vehicle travelled west on Boundary Road continuing on the United States side, and was pulled over by a Border Patrol agent a short time later.”
The statement said the family members were arrested minutes later on suspicion of illegally entering the United States without inspection.
Attempts were made to return the individuals to Canada, however Canada refused to allow their return and two attempts to contact the UK consulate were unsuccessful, the CBP said.
Ms Connors claimed they were not given the chance to return to Canada despite explaining their mistake.
She said: “We were detained anyway and treated in a way no human deserves to be treated.”
The family were originally taken to a facility in Washington before being flown across the US to the Berks Family Residential Centre (BFRC) in Pennsylvania, where they were held until they were sent back to the UK on Wednesday.
In a statement after the family was first detained, Ms Connors complained of poor conditions, including severe cold and inadequate facilities to feed her young son, but said conditions improved once they were allowed to contact the British embassy.
She said: "We have been treated like criminals here, stripped of our rights and lied to."
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) denied allegations of poor conditions or mistreatment at the facility.
It previously said in a statement to The Independent: “BFRC provides a safe and humane environment for families as they move through the immigration process.
“The centre has an outstanding track record with the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.”
She added: “The one thing I'm really looking forward to is getting home into my own bed and just being left alone in peace with my baby.
“My hands are trembling, I've been a nervous wreck but we're back now where we belong – with friends and family.
Additional reporting by Press Association.