British family deported after ‘accidental’ U.S. border crossing

U.S. officials deny it was mistake, release video of vehicle crossing into Washington from Langley

This June 22, 2018, photo shows the Berks County Residential Center in Bern Township, Pa. (Bill Uhrich/Reading Eagle via AP)

A British family that made an unauthorized crossing from B.C. into the United States was deported Wednesday after nearly two weeks in federal custody, ending an ordeal that family members called the worst of their lives.

The extended Connors family, which includes four adults, twin toddlers and an infant, had been held at a detention centre in Berks County, Pa. They’ve since been returned to England, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a statement.

Eileen Connors, 24, has said she and her family mistakenly crossed the border into Washington state, at the Aldergrove/Lynden crossing, while trying to avoid hitting an animal in the road, and were swiftly taken into custody by U.S. Border Patrol. Connors’ affidavit said family members were subsequently incarcerated in a series of cold and dirty immigration facilities and “treated like criminals” as they waited to be sent home.

The family said it had been vacationing in the Vancouver area.

U.S. officials have asserted the family crossed the border on purpose, saying their vehicle was observed “slowly and deliberately” driving through a ditch to cross into U.S. territory in Blaine, Wash., on Oct. 2. The travellers also had more than $16,000 CAD and a small quantity of marijuana, and two of them had previously been denied entry, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The agency said border agents tried returning the family to Canada, but Canada refused. After making two attempts to contact British consular officials, the border patrol said it turned the family over to U.S. immigration officials for removal proceedings.

Family representatives blasted the border agency’s response Wednesday.

“We are not surprised that the agency would put the character of non-citizen victims of their misconduct and neglect into question to justify their actions. This is CBP’s typical response to accountability. However, their communication in no way contradicts the family’s account that for a brief moment they turned into an unmarked road on United States soil,” said a statement from Aldea — The People’s Justice Center.

The family had been detained at the Berks County Residential Center outside Reading, Pa., since Oct. 5. In her affidavit, Connors described a frigid facility with dirty, malfunctioning bathrooms and uncaring, negligent staff.

Her complaints have been echoed by other detainees at the Berks facility, one of three family detention centres in the U.S. that hold children and parents who are seeking asylum or who entered the country illegally. Activists have long called for the detention centre’s closure.

READ MORE: British couple, vacationing in Vancouver area, detained in U.S. after ‘accidentally’ crossing border

U.S. immigration officials have said the Berks centre “has an outstanding track record.”

An email seeking comment from British consular officials in New York was not immediately returned.

– with a file from The Peace Arch News

Michael Rubinkam, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

3 people found violating court imposed curfews in Cowichan

People are placed on curfews for a variety of public safety reasons.

Starting a Riot experience back at the brewery again

Lounge reopening and potential for patio extension has owners enthusiastic

No lifeguards this summer for Cowichan’s Fuller Lake, Arbutus Park; Crofton pool closed

Fears of risk to health and safety during COVID-19 pandemic to blame

Elementary schools return with 40 per cent class attendance

RCMP issue 39 warnings in school zones around the region

North Cowichan parks reopening

Park Ambassadors to help address any issues

If Trudeau won’t stand up to Trump, how will regular people: Singh

Trudeau did not directly answer a question about Trump’s actions amid protests

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

As two B.C. offices see outbreaks, Dr. Henry warns tests don’t replace other measures

Physical distancing, PPE and sanitizing remain key to reduce COVID-19 spread

Greater Victoria drive-thru window smashed after man receives burger without mustard

Greater Victoria Wendy’s staff call police after man allegedly rips Plexiglas barrier off window

Murder charge upgraded in George Floyd case, 3 other cops charged

Floyd’s family and protesters have repeatedly called for criminal charges against all four officers

Friendly Cove and Kyuquot will remain closed until further notice

Transition of other B.C. communities will be monitored before a decision to ease restrictions

Racist incident shocks Vancouver Island First Nation

Port Alberni RCMP investigating after video shows truck wheeling through Tseshaht territory

Gold River organizes a shop local initiative to creatively boost economy

Local purchases can earn shoppers $200 gift certificates to be spent on businesses within Gold River

Young killer whale untangles itself from trap line off Nanaimo shore

DFO marine mammal rescue unit was en route as whale broke free from prawn trap line

Most Read