Driving across border north of Lynden, British family got detained two weeks
WHATCOM — A British family was arrested the evening of Oct. 2 on investigation of illegally entering the United States from Canada without inspection just north of Lynden.
The family turned west onto Avenue 0 in British Columbia at approximately 9 p.m. and entered the United States after deliberately driving through a ditch onto Boundary Road north of Lynden, according to Customs and Border Protection.
The vehicle then continued to travel west down Boundary Road in the United States before being pulled over by a Border Patrol agent. Four adults and three children were inside the vehicle and they were arrested at approximately 9:13 p.m.
Records checks of the family by U.S. authorities showed that two of the adults had previously been denied travel authorization to come into the United States.
Attempts were made to return the family to Canada, but were refused by Canadian authorities, and also two attempts to contact the United Kingdom consulate were unsuccessful, according to Customs and Border Protection.
The family was turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Removal Operations at approximately 3 p.m. the next day, Oct. 3, according to the agency.
Various media, including NBC, National Public Radio and CTV News of Canada, reported this story, which surfaced last week after a statement was put out by Eileen Connors, of the family group, through an attorney. By then the family was in the eastern United States.
Connors claims the seven, four adults and three children, had to endure inhumane conditions in their detainment, which included being separated from her husband for 24 hours “in a very cold cell” with her three-month-old son, she said in her reported statement.
They were denied returning to Canada as they wanted, Connors said, and were instead transported to the Seattle airport and put on a cross-country flight to Pennsylvania.
They were being held in federal custody at the Berks Family Residential Center, about 70 miles from Philadelphia, yet as of Oct. 15.
However, the family’s lawyer, Bridget Cambria, said Immigration and Customs Enforcement told her all seven members of the family would be headed back to England shortly.
In their statement through Cambria, the Connors family said they swerved to avoid hitting an animal on the road and drove across the border. However, CBP contradicts this account — and released camera video as evidence — saying the vehicle drove “slowly and deliberately” over the ditch into Washington State.
Although they asked to be returned to Canada, “We were detained anyway and treated in a way that no human deserves to be treated,” Connors wrote. She claimed they were kept in a facility that was “filthy” and in which she had to sleep on the floor with her baby.
“We are in disbelief that a government would do this to human beings,” she said.
ICE officials released a statement saying the facility the Connors were at “provides a safe and humane environment for families” and that they were given access to United Kingdom consular officials.
“During processing,” according to the CBP statement, “record checks revealed that two of the adults were previously denied travel authorization to come to the United States.”
The second family was two adults and 2-year-old twin daughters.