Los Angeles (AFP)
A British couple with their three-month-old baby was arrested two weeks ago by U.S. border agents, accused of illegally entering the country from Canada, although the family says they crossed by accident.
David Connors, 30, and his wife Eileen, 24, the baby's parents, are now in a detention center "treated as criminals" and said their vacations became "the scariest experience" of their lives, according to an affidavit released by press media.
The Connors were traveling with another couple with two children on a road in Vancouver near the border on the night of October 2 when, they say, they had to make a sudden detour to avoid an animal on the road.
They entered a parallel route and immediately after they saw the sirens: the officer who stopped them was an American.
Unlike the Mexican border, there is no metal wall or fence on the dividing line between Canada and the United States.
The US border patrol informed AFP on Wednesday that the vehicle was followed by surveillance systems and that they proceeded to make the arrest when "it turned south and entered the United States illegally, driving slowly and deliberately through a ditch in the Boundary Road in Lynden, Washington, "border state to the northwest.
The family lawyer, Bridget Cambria, says that the version of the authorities does not contradict that of the family "except for the description of the Office of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that the movement was deliberate."
– "The worst experience" –
After the arrest, CBP reported, "the records revealed that two of the adults had previously been denied travel authorization to the United States," without specifying whether it was the Connors.
The couple said it was a mistake and, according to their lawyer's statement, the officer refused to allow them to turn and return to the other side of the border.
CBP said later that "Canada refused to allow his return" and that "two attempts to contact the UK consulate were unsuccessful."
It is unknown if the other couple and their children are also detained.
British citizens do not need a visa to enter the United States, but they must process a permit before their trip.
"We will never forget this, we will be traumatized for the rest of our lives for what the United States has done to us," Eileen Connors wrote in his statement, ensuring that he slept on the dirty floor before being handed over to the ICE immigration police to be placed. in a detention center awaiting deportation, a process that usually takes two weeks.
They were held in a family detention center that he described as "dirty" and "ice cream" in Pennsylvania, where authorities told them they could not turn on the heating until November.
"They have stripped us of our rights and lied to us … It is without a doubt the worst experience we have lived."
ICE said the facilities offered "a safe and humane environment for families in immigration proceedings" and that they regularly receive "exceptional qualifications."
© 2019 AFP