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

Tour de Victoria postpones 10th annual ride to 2021

Ride that draws more than 3,000 cyclists to Greater Victoria was set for August

Rural Saanich residents urged to take preventative steps ahead of wildfire season

Saanich Fire Department expects another hot, dry wildfire season

West Shore RCMP, ICBC target speeders and aggressive drivers

Hotspots include Sooke Road, Veterans Memorial Parkway and Colwood Corners

Mission prison COVID-19 outbreak ends, 9 new cases in B.C.

New positive test at Port Coquitlam care home

POLL: Do you agree with the provincial government’s decision to increase the minimum wage?

B.C.’s lowest-paid workers will be getting a few more dollars to try… Continue reading

Getting hitched at historic B.C. gold rush town still on table during COVID-19 pandemic

Micro-weddings, online visits, offered at Barkerville Historic Town and Park

Stolen gargoyle returns to its perch on central Vancouver Island yard

Petey, a concrete gargoyle statue, was returned by Nanaimo RCMP after being found by city crew

Revelstoke woman finds welcoming letter on her Alberta-registered truck

There have been multiple reports online of vandalism to vehicles with Alberta licence plates

Spirit bear possibly spotted in West Kootenay

A local resident spotted the white-coloured bear while on an evening trail run near Castlegar on May 27

B.C. businesses ‘can’t shoulder burden’ of COVID-19 sick pay

Trudeau’s plan should be tied to federal emergency aid

B.C. teacher reprimanded for sharing homophobic and sexist memes, making racist comments

Klaus Hardy Breslauer was accused of making a laundry list of concerning decisions as a science teacher

COVID-19: B.C. too dependent on foreign food production workers

New B.C. job site links unemployed with farm, seafood work

Most Read