Brit ‘animal swerve’ border row couple had been DENIED entry to the US before ‘accidentally’ driving into America – The Sun

TWO Brits who were arrested in America after "accidentally crossing the US-Canada border when swerving to avoid an animal" had previously been denied entry to the States.

Londoners David and Eileen Connors are being held with their three-month old son Tommy and David's brother Michael Connors, his wife Grace and their two-year-old twin girls.


The family mistakenly barrelled into Washington State from British Columbia and claim to have been "treated like criminals" after being held by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

But US officials have now revealed two of the adults had previously been denied entry to the USA.

They say Eileen, 24, and 30-year-old David, crossed the border on purpose saying their car was observed "driving slowly and deliberately" through a ditch marking the US border with Canada.

US Customs and Border Protection said yesterday in a statement: "During processing, record checks revealed two of the adults were previously denied travel authorisation to come to the United States."

They did not specify which two adults had been denied entry.

'SLOWLY AND DELIBERATELY'

Attempts were apparently made to return them to Canada, but they wouldn't have them back.

A Canadian Border Patrol spokesperson told The Sun Online: "During processing, record checks revealed two of the adults were previously denied travel authorisation to come to the United States.

"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 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 at approximately 3 p.m. on Oct. 3."

Eileen claimed in a statement her baby has been subjected to cold and squalid conditions and has developed an eye condition and blotchy skin.

She said: "We will be traumatised for the rest of our lives by what the United States government has done to us."

But officials at the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which runs the centre, branded the Connors' claims as "unequivocally false."

'YOU CROSSED A BORDER'

The family alleged they were making the trip on October 3 as part of a family holiday when Michael swerved to avoid an animal.

An officer then told them: "You crossed an international border", according to attorney Bridget Cambria, of Aldea – The People's Justice Center.

After being arrested by US Customs and Border Protection agents in Washington state, the family were taken to Seattle airport and believed they would be allowed to go home.

But they were instead taken to the Berks Detention Center in Leesport, Pennsylvania.

The claims risk fuelling another row between Britain and the US after an American diplomat's wife was accused of killing British teen Harry Dunn in a hit-and-run.



LEGAL COMPLAINT

Anne Sacoolas fled back to the US claiming diplomatic immunity sparking fury from Mr Dunn's family.

Mrs Cambria, the family's lawyer, said: "They had no idea they had crossed any boundary.

"They had no idea they were even in the United States.

"They were just trying to get back to their hotel."

Aldea, who provide legal services in US immigration cases, have filed a complaint with the inspector general of the US Department of Homeland Security.

Mrs Cambria added that it's likely the family will be formally deported back to the UK – but no paperwork has been shared with them or their lawyers.

BABY'S 'SUFFERING'

In an emotional statement seen by The Philadelphia Inquirer, Eileen claims staff there have repeatedly dismissed her concerns for her baby son.

And she alleged he was stripped naked and left exposed while his clothes and blankets were taken for washing.

She said: "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."

Eileen added: "They even took away one of his formula containers, which I had to beg for three days for them to return it to me."

The blankets and sheets she and her son were given "smelled like a dead dog", she claims – leaving her fearful of using them in case her baby falls ill.

In her statement, Eileen also claims the bathrooms are filthy and that staff shine a flashlight into their cell every 15 minutes at night.

She added: "I feel like someone is going to take my baby."


'TREATED LIKE CRIMINALS'

David and his cousin Michael are being held in a separate part of the facility to the women and children of the family, it is understood.

Eileen added: "We have been treated like criminals here, stripped of our rights, and lied to. It is not right.

"We have been traumatised.

"This would never happen in the United Kingdom to US citizens, or anyone else, because people there are treated with dignity."

CLAIMS 'FALSE'

Berks is one of three US detention centres for migrant families the US – with the other two situated in Texas near the Mexico border.

ICE told The Sun Online that the agency is "firmly committed to the health and welfare of all those in its custody."

An ICE Official confirmed the couple are at the facility.

They added: "BFRC provides a safe and humane environment for families as they go through the immigration process.

"BFRC supports all sanctioned local, state, and federal investigations into the safety and welfare of our residents.

"Reports of abuse or inhumane conditions at BFRC are unequivocally false."

The Sun Online has contacted US Customs and Border Protection and the British Foreign Office for comment.



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