'Traumatised' British family say they have been detained in US after 'border mistake'

A BBritish family, including two toddlers and a baby, are being held by US immigration officials after accidentally crossing the border while trying to avoid hitting an animal on the road.

A British couple say they have been detained in America with their three month old baby after they accidentally crossed the border from Canada.
A British couple say they have been detained in America with their three month old baby after they accidentally crossed the border from Canada.

David Connors, 30, his wife, Eileen, 24, and their three-month-old son were detained on October 3 after driving across the US-Canada border south of Vancouver while on holiday.

Mr Connors' brother, Michael Connors, his wife, Grace, and their two-year-old twin daughters are also said to have been detained.

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The couple said they did not realise they had crossed the border when they swerved into a side road in order to avoid hitting an animal.

However, they were later pulled over by a police officer who informed them that they had entered the US state of Washington and then arrested them.

In a statement provided through their lawyer, the Connors said they have been "traumatised" by the United States government and allege that they have been mistreated while in detention.

The couple said they were originally separated after their arrest when Mr Connors was taken to a detention centre in Tacoma, Washington, and Mrs Connors was placed in a hotel with her son.

The next day the family were flown to Pennsylvania, more than 2,500 miles away, and taken to the Berks Family Residential Centre (BFRC) in Leesport, where they have been held since October 5.

Bridget Cambria, of Aldea - the People's Justice Centre, representing Mr and Mrs Connors, has filed a complaint with the US Department of Homeland Security on their behalf.

According to the complaint, the couple said the arresting officer did not read them their rights or give them the opportunity to return to Canada.

Since being held in BRFC, Mrs Connors has complained about the "frigid" temperature in the cells and said centre staff confiscated her son's formula for three days.

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According to the complaint, she said: "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.

"My baby can't wear a hat all the time, he feels uncomfortable with hats and mittens and starts to cry."

Mrs Connors said her son now appears to have an eye infection and has rough and blotchy skin due to the poor conditions.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office confirmed the family are being held and said it is now working with US authorities.

A spokesman said: "We are providing assistance to a British family following their arrest in the USA and are in close contact with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement."

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) denied allegations of mistreatment in the facility.

An agency official said: "Eileen Connors and David Connors are currently in ICE custody.

"BFRC provides a safe and humane environment for families as they go through the immigration process. BFRC supports all sanctioned local, state and federal investigations into the safety and welfare of our residents.

"Reports of abuse or inhumane conditions at BFRC are unequivocally false.

"US Immigration and Customs Enforcement is committed to ensuring that those in our custody reside in safe and humane environments and under appropriate conditions."

The couple's arrest comes after a suspect in a car crash which killed a 19-year-old motorcyclist in Northamptonshire was granted diplomatic immunity by US officials and allowed to leave the UK.

Anne Sacoolas, 42, who is reportedly married to a US intelligence official, left the UK just days after the crash which killed Harry Dunn near RAF Croughton on August 27.

Mr Dunn's family have urged Mrs Sacoolas to return to the UK, and travelled to the US on Sunday ahead of visits to New York and Washington DC.

Although Mrs Sacoolas no longer has immunity, the family have demanded an investigation over the Foreign Office's advice to Northamptonshire Police following the crash with regard to her diplomatic status.