A young family from the UK was arrested on Oct. 3, 2019, after they claim their vehicle inadvertently crossed into the U.S. from Canada because they’d swerved to avoid hitting an animal. (File)

VIDEO: U.S. officials refute British couple’s ‘accidental’ border-crossing claim

Authorities say couple was arrested after illegal entry from B.C., with $16,000 and marijuana

The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol is denying the claims of a British couple who’d been vacationing in the Vancouver area and “accidentally” crossed the border.

David Connors, 30, Eileen Connors, 24, and their three-month-old son say they inadvertently crossed the border at B.C. and Washington State – while in a vehicle with at least four other family members – after detouring to avoid an animal in the road.

They said they 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.

Instead, they said they were arrested and moved to a detention centre in Pennsylvania. The other family members, including a brother, his wife and their two-year-old twin girls are also being detained in the U.S. as suspected illegal immigrants.

However, a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol statement this week said the Oct. 2 crossing was deliberate, and that record checks show that two of the adults in the vehicle had previously been denied authorization to come to the U.S.

Officials said the travellers also had “more than $16,000 CAD and a small quantity of marijuana, less than three grams.”

The law enforcement agency released surveillance footage – which notes the arrest occurred in Lynden, Wash. –that appears to show a vehicle slowly driving through what officials call a ditch and breaching the international boundary.

What appears to be a small animal can be seen crossing the road a short distance in front of the vehicle.

“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.”

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

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 in her and her husband’s statement.

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, alleging mistreatment during their detention, including “frigid” cells and inadequate clothing and blankets for their child.

U.S.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.”

– with files from the Associated Press



alex.browne@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Londoners David Connors, 30, Eileen Connors, 24, and their son, were reportedly taken into custody by US Border Patrol officers on Oct. 3, after the vehicle they were riding in inadvertently crossed the border after swerving to avoid an animal in the road. (web image)

Just Posted

Man accused in Salmon Arm church shooting also charged with arson

Parmenter family home badly damaged by fire a month before killing

Cod Gone Wild to serve the Shuswap another round of musical cheer

Celtic-inspired Okanagan band to perform in Salmon Arm and Sorrento

Kids Christmas shopping event coming to Salmon Arm

Friends and Neighbours by Leah Blain

Okanagan teenagers found after missing for four days

The pair, believed to be dating, had been missing since Nov. 15.

Shuswap families bring home medals from Calgary karate tournament

The Summit Open Martial Arts Challenge was good to martial artists from Salmon Arm and Sicamous

Bye bye Bei Bei: Giant panda born in U.S. zoo heads to China

Panda heads back to China as part of cooperative breeding program

B.C. to advocate for frustrated, confused, unhappy cellphone users, says premier

Maple Ridge New Democrat Bob D’Eith to advocate for more affordable and transparent cellphone options

WATCH: Coldstream garage fire as hot as 275 C: deputy fire Chief

Shop fire potential for ‘one heck of a fireworks show,’ O’Hara says

North Okanagan women head up college board

Gloria Morgan named chair and Juliette Cunningham vice-chair Tuesday

Artist waves women’s flag in Okanagan

SheShe declares femininity with all-encompassing exhibit

Mental health first aid course offered by CMHA at Salmon Arm Okanagan College campus

Students learn to engage with someone experiencing a mental health problem

B.C. man who killed Belgian tourist near Boston Bar gets life in prison, no parole until 2042

Sean McKenzie pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of 28-year-old Amelie Christelle Sakkalis

‘Very disrespectful’: B.C. first responder irked by motorists recording collisions on cellphones

Central Cariboo Search and Rescue deputy chief challenges motorists to break the habit

Most Read