A British family-of-seven visiting Canada have been arrested in the US after accidentally crossing into American territory when they took a wrong turn.
David Connors, 30, and Eileen Connors, 24, from London, say their three-month-old son has been subjected to filthy conditions in the Berks Detention Center in Leesport, Pennsylvania, when they were detained along with David’s brother Michael Connors, his wife Grace and their two-year-old twin girls.
The family’s attorney Bridget Cambria, of Aldea – The People’s Justice Center, filed a complaint on behalf of the family with the inspector general of the US Department of Homeland Security.
Cambria said on October 3, Michael was driving with his family while vising Vancouver when he swerved to avoid hitting an animal.
Michael turned onto an unmarked road and within moments, multiple police cars and Border Patrol agents appeared.
‘You crossed an international border,’ the officer told them.
The two men were immediately arrested despite declaring their innocence.
‘They had no idea they had crossed any boundary,’ Cambria said Monday. ‘They had no idea they were even in the United States. They were just trying to get back to their hotel.’
Cambria said it’s likely the family will be formally deported, but no paperwork has been shared with them or their lawyers.
The family was taken into custody near the US-Vancouver border for the first night and were told they would be released to family in the US, though they said all they wanted to do was go home.
According to Eileen Connors’ statement, immigration officials said there was a change in plans and instead of being released to family, they were put in a van and driven to the airport.
Eileen said it was ‘like an abduction or kidnapping’.
‘We will be traumatized for the rest of our lives by what the United States government has done to us,’ Eileen Connors wrote in a statement obtained by The Philadelphia Inquirer.
When they got to the Seattle airport, Eileen said she thought they were finally going home but instead they were flown to Pennsylvania and arrived at the Berks center on October 5.
Berks is one of three detention centers for migrant families the US, while the other two are in Texas near the Mexico border.
The men were separated in a different part of the center, while Eileen opted to keep her son with her instead of separated with other children.
Eileen said her son was stripped naked and exposed with his clothes and blankets taken for washing.
‘When I ask how am I supposed to keep my baby warm in this horrible cold, all they tell me is to put a hat on him… They even took away one of his formula containers, which I had to beg for three days for them to return it to me,’ she wrote.
Eileen wrote that the blankets and sheets they were given ‘smelled like a dead dog’.
She said she won’t use them to cover her son ‘for fear they haven’t been washed and my baby will become sick.’
She added that the bathrooms are dirty and broken and at night a staff shines flashlight into their cell every 15 minutes.
‘I feel like someone is going to take my baby,’ she said.
Officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement told The Philadelphia Inquirer that they were checking into the case and would respond to a request for comment as soon as possible.
‘We have been treated like criminals here, stripped of our rights, and lied to. It is not right,’ Eileen wrote. ‘We have been traumatized. This would never happen in the United Kingdom to U.S. citizens, or anyone else, because people there are treated with dignity.’
A family source told DailyMail.com Eileen had been trying to conceive for more than five years before their son was born. The family said it is heartbreaking for them.
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