Published: 10:23, 16 October 2019
| Updated: 15:59, 16 October 2019
The Foreign Office is supporting a Maidstone couple and their three-month-old son who claim they were thrown in an American prison for accidentally crossing the border from Canada.
David and Eileen Connors were on holiday near Vancouver when it was reported the family took a detour while driving to avoid an animal in the road and entered the US without knowing.
A group of seven, which is also said to have included Mr Connors’ brother, Michael, his wife Grace and their two-year-old twin daughters, were arrested by the US Border Patrol earlier this month and have since been in custody at Berks County Residential Center in Pennsylvania, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
A statement from the family's lawyer, published in the international media, claims David and Michael were separated from their wives and children, and that on the first night of their detention, Eileen was held with her baby in a women’s cell with only foil blanket to keep warm.
Mrs Connors is said to have likened the experience to "an abduction or kidnapping", given blankets that smelled like "dead dog" and claimed her son has developed skin and eye conditions.
She added: “We have been treated like criminals here, stripped of our rights, and lied to.
“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.”
The family's lawyer told reporters they had no idea they had crossed any boundary, as US officials allege the couple's car was captured on camera turning into a ditch on the Canadian side of the border before scaling the other side to enter the country.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement teams have also denied the claims of inhumane conditions at the prison.
A spokesman said: "A vehicle was observed via remote video surveillance system turning west onto Avenue 0 in British Columbia, Canada, at approximately 9pm, Oct. 2.
"The vehicle then turned south and entered the U.S. illegally, by slowly and deliberately driving through a ditch onto Boundary Road in Lynden, 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 seven occupants of the vehicle, who are citizens of the United Kingdom, were arrested at approximately 9.13pm, in accordance with law as established by the Immigration and Nationality Act for illegally entering the United States without inspection."
A spokeswoman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office told KentOnline: “We are providing assistance to a British family after they were taken into custody in the USA and are in close contact with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”
More by this authorTom Pyman