Jailed British tourists entered U.S. 'deliberately'

Clay Curtis
October 17, 2019

David and Eileen Connors were on holiday near Vancouver when it was reported the family took a detour while driving to avoid an animal in the road and entered the USA without knowing.

The vehicle is then seen crossing the grass ditch that serves as the U.S.

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) arrested the seven family members on October 2 for entering the country illegally from British Columbia where they were vacationing.

Inside the vehicle, agents found $16,600 in Canadian cash, the CBP official said.

"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 added.

"ICE has ensured the Connors have had access to United Kingdom (U.K.) consular officials while in ICE custody", the agency said in a statement.

"The families were told there was video footage", Cambria said.

"The family was travelling in a Canadian rental auto, with enough Canadian money to cover the expenses of a prolonged trip by land for a family of seven, including three small children", the statement said.

She said her clients described the "ditch" as more of a grass median.

'They had no idea they had crossed any boundary, ' Cambria said Monday.

The attorney has filed a formal complaint with the USA government.

"A vehicle was observed via remote video surveillance system turning west onto Avenue 0 in British Columbia, Canada, at approximately 9 p.m., October 2", CPB said in a statement sent to AFP on Wednesday.

As British citizens, the family was entitled to visit the US without a visa. Last June, a French citizen visiting her mother in British Columbia was arrested by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol after jogging on the beach near the border of Vancouver and Blaine, Wash. Eileen said they were forced from cells into a van in a scene she described as being similar to "an abduction or kidnapping".

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All of the occupants of the vehicle, including 2-year-old twins, were taken into custody and moved to Berks.

While in the facility she says her baby has developed health problems including skin irritations and an eye infection.

The Berks County lock-up - long vilified by critics as a "baby jail" that should be closed - was created to hold parents and their children who came into the United States without papers.

Other family members, including 2-year-old twins, also were taken into custody and moved to Berks, where they remain, Cambria said.

The family has said they were initially kept in "very cold" gender-segregated cells.

In an echo of events at the USA southern border, where parents were separated from their children through a "zero tolerance" policy, the family wrote that in response to complaints about conditions, an ICE employee offered to remove their baby. According to the statement, the officer said "no".

The vehicle then turned south and "slowly and deliberately" drove through a ditch onto Boundary Road in Blaine, Wash., Stephanie Malin, a spokesperson with the USA agency, said in an email. When an animal suddenly appeared in the lane, Michael Connors turned to avoid hitting it.

Ms. Connors, 24, said USA officials have mistreated them, according to her affidavit from the formal complaint that was released by immigrants' rights groups in Pennsylvania.

"We have been traumatised and it has even damaged our relationship".

Several members of an extended British family who made an unauthorized crossing into the United States from Canada are being held in federal custody at the Pennsylvania detention centre almost two weeks after their arrest, their lawyer said, as USA border officials defended their handling of the case by disclosing that two of the adults had previously been denied entry to the country.

Berks is one of three centres in the county that hold migrant families - the two others are in Texas - with a combined capacity of about 3,100 people.

The occupants were arrested for illegally entering the U.S. without inspection.

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