Londoners David Connors, 30, Eileen Connors, 24, and their son, were taken into custody by US Border Patrol officers on Oct. 2, after the vehicle they were riding in crossed the border while allegedly detouring to avoid an animal in the road. (web image)

UPDATED: British couple vacationing in Vancouver detained in US after ‘accidentally’ crossing border

CBP claims individuals were denied travel authorization, crossing was deliberate

The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) is contradicting media reports about the detention of a holidaying British couple and their three-month-old son who made headlines in multiple U.K. and U.S. media outlets.

The couple – who as of Wednesday were being detained in the U.S., along with other members of the same family – allege they crossed the B.C./Washington State border into Washington state “accidentally.”

But a CBP spokesperson told Peace Arch News Tuesday that the vehicle in which they were travelling – on Zero Avenue – made a deliberate crossing of the border on Oct. 2.

In an emailed statement, the spokesperson also noted that record checks had shown that two of the adults in the vehicle had previously been denied travel authorization to come to the U.S.

Furthermore, the statement says, Canadian authorities refused to allow return of the detainees after the incident.

READ ALSO: Smuggler’s Inn owner charged with helping people illegally enter Canada

READ ALSO: Guilty plea entered in human smuggling case at South Surrey border crossing

Wednesday afternoon, the spokesperson confirmed reports that the travellers also “had more than $16,000 CAD and a small quantity of marijuana, less than three grams.”

According to media reports, Londoners David Connors, 30, Eileen Connors, 24, and their infant son were taken into custody by CBP officers after the vehicle – driven by David Connors’ brother – inadvertently crossed the border after detouring to avoid an animal in the road.

(The driver, along with his other passengers, his wife and their two-year-old twin girls – apparently Canadian residents – are also in detention in the U.S. as suspected illegal immigrants.)

In video surveillance of the alleged crossing – which notes the arrest occurred in Lynden – a vehicle can be seen slowly breaching the international boundary. The video also captures what appears to be a small animal crossing the road a short distance in front of the vehicle.

The couple’s sworn statement asserts the family did not realize they had crossed the border, and were stopped by an officer who told them they were in Washington State, but did not read them their rights or allow them to turn around and return to Canada.

The Connors are now being held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents at the Berks Family Residential Center (BFRC) in Leesport, Penn.

In the statement, the couple describe their detention (which has reportedly included separation of the brothers from their wives and children), as “the scariest experience of our lives.”

Eileen Connors compared their move to the Pennsylvania facility to “an abduction or a kidnapping.”

“We will be traumatized for the rest of our lives by what the United States government has done to us,” she said.

The CBP account says, however, that the vehicle was travelling deliberately when tracked by remote video surveillance.

“A vehicle was observed… turning west onto Avenue 0 in British Columbia, Canada, at approximately 9 p.m.,” the statement says.

“The vehicle then turned south and entered the U.S. illegally, by slowly and deliberately driving through a ditch onto Boundary Road in Blaine, Washington. The vehicle traveled west on Boundary Road continuing on the United States’ side, and was pulled over by a Border Patrol agent a short time later.

“The seven occupants of the vehicle, who are citizens of the United Kingdom, were arrested at approximately 9:13 p.m., in accordance with law as established by the Immigration and Nationality Act for illegally entering the United States without inspection.”

During processing, record checks revealed two of the adults were previously denied travel authorization to come to the U.S., the CBP spokesperson says.

“Attempts were made to return the individuals to Canada, however, Canada refused to allow their return and two attempts to contact the consulate for the United Kingdom were unsuccessful,” the statement continues.

“The seven individuals, consisting of four adults and three children, were processed by Border Patrol and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Enforcement and Removal Operations at approximately 3 p.m. on Oct. 3.

An attorney for the People’s Justice Centre, representing the family, has filed a complaint with the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

In a statement from their lawyer provided to the BBC and other media outlets in the U.S. and U.K., the couple allege mistreatment during their continuing detention, including “frigid” cells and inadequate clothing and blankets for their child.

U.S. immigration authorities have denied allegations of mistreatment, maintaining that the facility “provides a safe and humane environment for families as they go through the immigration process.”

“‘Reports of abuse or inhumane conditions at BFRC are unequivocally false,” an ICE spokesperson told media.



alex.browne@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

White Rock to ‘take new management direction’ by replacing CAO

Dan Bottrill has been the city’s chief administrative officer since 2012

‘Slight’ arsenic increase noted in White Rock water: city

Challenges in plant commissioning cited, testing underway

Coastal FC Walking Soccer program takes first steps

South Surrey recreation program held weekly at BMO Coastal Soccer Centre

Event set to light up White Rock’s Memorial Park

Inaugural Festival of Lights will launch on Dec. 6

Advocates push for high-speed rail connecting Vancouver to Seattle, Portland

The bullet train idea could cost an estimated $50 billion

‘We love you, Alex!’: Trebek gets choked up by ‘Jeopardy!’ contestant’s answer

The emotional moment came in Monday’s episode when Trebek read Dhruv Gaur’s final answer

Petition for free hospital parking presented to MP Jody Wilson-Raybould

What started as a B.C. campaign became a national issue, organizer said

Bargaining to resume in Metro Vancouver transit strike as bus driver overtime ban looms

Both sides might be headed back to the table to prevent new overtime ban

Petition to ‘bring back Don Cherry’ goes viral after immigrant poppy rant

Cherry was fired from his co-hosting role for the Coach’s Corner segment on Nov. 11.

B.C.’s high gasoline prices still a mystery, Premier John Horgan says

NDP plans legislation this month, seeks action from Justin Trudeau

Group walking on thin ice at B.C. lake sparks warning from RCMP

At least seven people were spotted on Joffre Lakes, although the ice is not thick enough to be walked on

VIDEO: Don Cherry says he was fired, not sorry for ‘Coach’s Corner’ poppy rant

Cherry denies he was singling out visible minorities with his comments

B.C. teacher suspended for incessantly messaging student, writing friendship letter

Female teacher pursued Grade 12 student for friendship even after being rebuked

Disney Plus streaming service hits Canada with tech hurdles

Service costs $8.99 per month, or $89.99 per year, in Canada

Most Read

l -->