Seven members of an extended British family who made an unauthorized crossing into the United States from Canada are being held in federal custody at a Pennsylvania detention center nearly two weeks after their arrest, their lawyer said Tuesday, as U.S. border officials defended their handling of the case by disclosing that two of the adults had previously been denied entry to the country.
The family said they blundered into Washington state while trying to avoid an animal in the road on the Canadian side and have since been “treated like criminals” by their U.S. jailers, forced to bide their time in a series of cold and unsanitary immigration facilities as they await deportation to England. The detainees include an infant and 2-year-old twins.
Their attorney, Bridget Cambria, lodged a formal complaint over the family’s treatment with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general and civil-rights office. She described the situation as a “very bizarre” case of federal overreach.
“What is bothersome for me as an attorney, and I guarantee for them, was the lack of common sense at almost every stage of their apprehension and detention,” Cambria said.
U.S. officials assert the family of Eileen and David Connors crossed the border on purpose, noting their vehicle was observed “slowly and deliberately” driving through a ditch to cross into U.S. territory in Blaine on Oct. 2. Four adults and three children were inside.
“During processing, record checks revealed two of the adults were previously denied travel authorization to come to the United States,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Tuesday in a statement to The Associated Press.