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  1. ITV Report

London family in US border row 'acted deliberately', American authorities say

American authorities have disputed claims that seven members of a British family detained after crossing the US border did so accidentally, saying their action was illegal and deliberate.

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The US Customs and Border Protection unit disagrees with the version of events from the Connors family that they did not realise they had crossed the border south of Vancouver when they apparently swerved into a side road to avoid hitting an animal while on holiday in October.

Authorities say two family members were previously denied permission to come to the United States.

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 have been in detention since their arrest soon after, though lawyers for the family said they may be released within a day.

But in a statement the US Customs and Border Protection unit said its evidence contradicted that of the Connors family.

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.

– US Customs and Border Protection unit

The statement said the family members were arrested minutes later on suspicion of illegally entering the United States.

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

Mrs Connors said they were not given the chance to return to Canada despite explaining their mistake.

We were detained anyway and treated in a way no human deserves to be treated.

– Eileen Connors

The family were originally taken to Washington state before being flown across the US to the Berks Family Residential Centre in Pennsylvania, where they are currently being held.

We had no information about where they were taking us or why. It almost felt like an abduction or kidnapping.

– Eileen Connors

In the statement Mrs Connors also complained of poor conditions, including severe cold and inadequate facilities to feed her young son, but said conditions improved once they were allowed to contact the British embassy.

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

– Eileen Connors

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement has denied allegations of poor conditions or mistreatment at the facility.

A spokesman from Aldea - the People's Justice Centre, who is representing the family - said an ICE official said they could be leaving the facility on Wednesday, but the family did not know whether to believe this.