british family detained us 2019

British Family Held in US Detention Centre “Traumatised”

A holidaying British family was detained on the 3rd October after accidentally crossing the border between Canada and the US. They are currently being held in the Berks Family Residential Detention Center in Pennsylvania and attempting to lodge an appeal.  

According to the family, they crossed the border accidentally while driving together to a day-trip on their holiday in British Columbia, Canada. After making a “very brief detour on an unmarked road to avoid an animal on the road” they accidentally crossed into the United States, where they were immediately pulled over by a border patrol agent and taken into detention.

Cars line up on Avenue 0, British Columbia, Canada to pass into the US (left) and on Boundary Road, Blaine, Washington. USA to get into Canada (right)
Image: https://www.npr.org/2019/10/15/770321744/british-family-detained-by-ice-after-unlawfully-entering-u-s-from-canada?t=1571232416816

The family, which consists of seven British citizens, including two adults and their two-year-old twin daughters, and two other related adults and their three-month-old baby son, have described being “traumatised” by their experience of detention. According to their sworn statement, their baby was made to sleep on a “filthy concrete floor” in “frigid temperatures”.

According to senior officials in the US-Canada border-control unit, the family had deliberately attempted to enter the US without detected. One official claimed that the group had $16,000 in cash on them.

However, the adults in the family deny these allegations, saying that they hadn’t realised they had crossed into the States. According to CCTV footage, the family’s car can be seen turning west onto Avenue 0 in British Columbia, Canada. The vehicle then makes a turn South, entering the US through a ‘ditch’ onto Boundary Road, in Blaine, Washington, USA.

In a statement, ICE (the Department of Homeland Security) said that their centres provide a “safe and human environment for families as they go through the immigration process”. It added that it takes “approximately two weeks” to send someone back to the UK.

Image credit: https://news.sky.com/story/british-family-detained-after-accidentally-crossing-the-us-border-11836492

Written by
Luna Williams