British Couple Traumatised After Arrest At US Border

A British couple have been detained after illegally crossing the border from Canada. The couple said they are traumatised after Arrest At US Border. David Connors, 30, and his wife Eileen, 24, say they are being held in Pennsylvania with their three-month-old baby and are “traumatised”, because they accidentally crossed the US border, they said. According to them, they said they were driving with family members on 3 October when in order to avoid an animal, they veered onto a small road. They were then pulled over by a police officer who told them they were in the US state of Washington and arrested them.

British Couple Traumatised After Arrest At US Border

In a sworn statement that was provided to BBC News by their lawyer, the couple have detailed the ” scariest experience of our lives”. The family statement is the basis for a legal complaint lodged by their lawyer with the US of Homeland Security inspector general. The US immigration authorities confirmed to BBC that the couple were being held, but denied the allegations that they were being mistreated.

Where were they taken?

The family’s attorney, Bridget Cambria, of Aldea – the People’s Justice Center, said the couple were driving south of Vancouver on 3 October when they took a detour to avoid an animal on the road. The family argued that they did not realise they had strayed over the US border. According to the complaint, the couple were stopped by a police officer who didn’t read them their rights, nor allow them to “simply turn around” and return back to Canada.

The young family said after the arrest at US border, they were separated at first – with David Connors being held in a male-only cell, while Eileen Connors and their 3 months old son were held in a women’s cell. The husband was later taken to a detention centre in Tacoma, Washington, while his wife and their infant son were taken to a budget hotel near seattle-Tacoma International Airport, the complaint read.

They said they were driven to the airport, which raised their hopes that they were being flown back to Canada or the UK. “But that wasn’t the case,” Eileen Connors says in the sworn statement. Rather, they were flown to Pennsylvania – on the other side of the country.

On 5 October, they were taken to Berks Family Residential Center (BFRC), one of three immigration detention centres in United States that can accommodate families. In a statement, Mrs Connors told BBC that: “We will be traumatised for the rest of our lives by what the United States government has done to us.”

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) confirmed the family was in detention at the BFRC facility in Leesport, Pennsylvania. The agency’s spokesperson told the BBC that BFRC ” as families goes through the immigration process, the government provides a safe and humane environment for them”. “Reports of abuse or inhumane conditions at our centres are  not true,” he added.

‘The worst experience’

A sworn statement by the couple says the cells are “frigid”, and staff have refused to turn the heating on until end of the month. “I ask them 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 have a hat on all the time, he doesn’t feel comfortable with hats and mittens and he cries whenever he wears them” Mrs Connors said in the statement.

Staff of the facility confiscated my baby’s formula for three days, as well as his teething powder and would only provide us with a disgusting blankets that smelled like a dead dog, my baby’s skin is now rough and blotchy and he appears to have an eye infection,” she added.

We have been treated like criminals here without any remorse for their inhuman actions, we have been stripped of our rights, and also lied to,” Mrs Connors continued. “It is not right. “We have been treated unfairly from day one. This is the worst experience we have ever lived through. “We have been traumatised and it has even damaged our relationship”.