UK tourist family detained over US-Canada border row arrive home

Telegraph Reporters
David Connors, 30, and his wife Eileen, 24 are among a family of seven who have been sent back to Britain after being detained in the US as illegal immigrants. - Facebook

A British family detained in an American immigration facility after crossing the US border have been sent back to the UK, US officials have confirmed.

David Connors, 30, his wife Eileen, 24, and their three-month-old son along with relatives Michael Connors, his wife Grace and their two-year-old twin daughters had been in custody since October 2 after they were accused of trying to enter the US from Canada illegally.

But the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) confirmed all seven family members, previously held in the Berks Family Residential Centre in Pennsylvania, have been "successfully repatriated back to the United Kingdom" on Wednesday.

It came after a spokesman from Aldea The People's Justice Center, which has been representing the Connors, said they had been released and were being "removed to the UK".

The Connors family claimed they did not realise they crossed the border south of Vancouver when they swerved into a side road to avoid hitting an animal while on holiday.

But American authorities disputed the family's account, calling their actions "illegal" and "deliberate".

In a previously released statement, Eileen Connors said they tried to explain their "mistake" but were not allowed to return to Canada.

Touching down at Heathrow, Ms Connors told the MailOnline she was happy to be home.

"It's been a complete nightmare," she said.

'The one thing I'm really looking forward to is getting home into my own bed and just being left alone in peace with my baby.

"We've been treated horribly by the authorities in America. I thought the Americans were supposed to be friendly with the British but I saw no evidence of it.

"The detention centre was freezing cold and the food was disgusting. The only thing I could eat was tuna.

"My baby got a cold in there and I wasn't even allowed to give him teething salt because the sachets were confiscated.

"We weren't allowed to smoke for two weeks either or have fizzy drinks.

"My hands are trembling, I've been a nervous wreck but we're back now where we belong - with friends and family.

"But I'm glad I'm out of the place, it was absolutely awful. So run down."

She said her biggest regret was that the family had been banned from visiting the US for the next five years and she had wanted to take her children to Disneyland.

"We have been treated like criminals here, stripped of our rights and lied to."

In a statement to the PA news agency on Wednesday, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said its evidence contradicted that of the Connors family.

A spokesperson said: "A vehicle was observed via remote video surveillance system turning west onto Avenue 0 in British Columbia, Canada, at approximately 9pm, October 2.

"The vehicle then turned south and entered the US illegally, by slowly and deliberately driving through a ditch onto Boundary Road in Blaine, Washington.

"The vehicle travelled west on Boundary Road continuing on the United States side, and was pulled over by a Border Patrol agent a short time later."

The statement said the family members were arrested minutes later on suspicion of illegally entering the United States without inspection.

Attempts were made to return the individuals to Canada, however Canada refused to allow their return and two attempts to contact the United Kingdom consulate were unsuccessful, the CBP said.

The CBP added two adult family members were previously denied travel authorisation to come to the United States.

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