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UK Family 'Traumatized' After Arrest at US-Canada Border

Family of 5 detained in Pa. says they've been living a nightmare since accidentally crossing into America
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 15, 2019 10:50 AM CDT
In this July 8, 2019, file photo, a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer looks on during an operation in Escondido, Calif.   (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)

(Newser) – A family vacation in Canada for a UK couple and their three kids has turned into a nightmare, leaving them locked up in a Pennsylvania detention center. The Washington Post reports on the plight of David and Eileen Connors, who say they were driving near the US border close to Vancouver on Oct. 3 when an animal blocked their path, forcing them to take a detour on a smaller road. That's when the Connors say an American cop pulled them over, told them they'd crossed the border into the US, and took them all into custody. Where the family was flown to two days later: the Berks Family Residential Center in Leesport, Pa., which the Inquirer notes has been slammed by critics as being a "baby jail." "We have been treated like criminals here, stripped of our rights, and lied to. ... It is undoubtedly the worst experience we have ever lived through," Eileen Connors, 24, says in a sworn statement.

An Immigration and Customs Enforcement rep confirms to the BBC the Connors family has been detained, but denies mistreatment or bad conditions. The facility "provides a safe and humane environment for families as they go through the immigration process," and "reports of abuse or inhumane conditions ... are unequivocally false," he says. But Eileen Connors details a litany of missteps, including the arrest of her husband and his cousin without reading them their rights, making her sleep on the floor in a freezing cell with her 3-month-old son, being misled into thinking they'd be released to a US relative, being told their infant could be taken out of the facility if they agreed to be separated from him, and not allowing them to call their embassy. "We will be traumatized for the rest of our lives by what the United States government has done to us," she says in her statement. (Read more US Canada border stories.)

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