U.S. deports British family that claimed accidental entry into U.S. from Canada

John Bacon and Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY

A British family that made an unauthorized entry from Canada into the U.S. has been deported after two weeks in what they described as deplorable conditions in federal custody, their lawyer said.

Bridget Cambria, who represents the Connors family, said officials from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement informed her that all seven relatives are being sent back to England. The family includes two adult couples, one with an infant and the other one with toddler twins.

ICE said it has a policy not to comment on deportations until they've been completed.

U.S. officials, who said two of the adults had been previously denied travel authorization into the country, rejected the Connors' claims that they crossed the border by accident.

David Connors, 30, and Eileen Connors, 24, said they were improperly arrested Oct. 2 after their car swerved into a ditch while trying to avoid an animal in British Columbia and accidentally entered Washington state. Eileen Connors said they were held in cold, unsanitary facilities and “treated like criminals."

“We will be traumatized for the rest of our lives by what the United States government has done to us,” Eileen Connors wrote in an affidavit released by an immigrant rights group.

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol said the couple deliberately crossed into Washington.

“A vehicle was observed, (turned) south and entered the U.S. illegally, by slowly and deliberately driving through a ditch onto Boundary Road in Blaine, Washington," CBP said in a statement. "The vehicle traveled west on Boundary Road, continuing on the United States’ side, and was pulled over by a Border Patrol agent a short time later."

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Cambria said CBP's explanation doesn't contradict the family "other than the description of CBP that the move was deliberate.” 

Canada refused to allow their return, and attempts to contact the British consulate failed.

This image released by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement shows the Berks Family Residential Center in Leesport, Pennsylvania, near Reading, on May 5, 2015. U.S. authorities are disputing the account from a British family that claims they were held in dreadful conditions.

The family was turned over to ICE the next day and was held at a family residential center in Leesport, Pennsylvania.

Eileen Connors said the bathrooms are broken and dirty. The facility is cold, but authorities told her they can't turn the heat on until November, she said. She said her baby developed a swollen, teary eye and blotchy skin.

“We have been treated unfairly from day one,” Connors wrote in the affidavit. “It is undoubtedly the worst experience we have ever lived through.”

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That drew a rebuke from ICE, which issued a statement saying the Berks Family Residential Center is safe and humane.

"The center has an outstanding track record ... is regularly awarded exceptional ratings concerning the health, safety, and treatment of its residents," the statement said.

Last year, a French teen visiting Canada made international news when she was taken into custody by U.S. Border Patrol officers after inadvertently crossing into Washington state while jogging. Cedella Roman, 19, was released after 15 days.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Deported British family told horrific tale of arrest, detainment in US