A British family of seven held in a US immigration centre after ‘accidentally crossing over from Canada’ landed back in Britain and said: ‘Its great to be home.’
Eileen and David Connors touched down at Heathrow this evening with three-month-old son Tommy.
David’s brother Michael was also on the American Airlines flight from New York with their two-year-old twin daughters.
Eileen hugged mother Mary outside Heathrow’s Terminal Three in an emotional reunion after being locked up at the Berks Detention Center in Leesport, Pennsylvania on October 5.
Eileen (pictured) and David Connors touched down at Heathrow this evening with three-month-old son Tommy
She told MailOnline how the whole family had been banned from entering America for five years.
Eileen, 24, said: ‘I’m so happy to be home, it’s been a complete nightmare.
‘The one thing I’m really looking forward to is getting home into my own bed and just being left alone in peace with my baby.
Mother Mary added: ‘I’m so pleased they’re back, I was worried sick. I can’t wait to see my grandson again’
‘We’ve been treated horribly by the authorities in America. I thought the Americans were supposed to be friendly with the British but I saw no evidence of it.
‘The detention centre was freezing cold and the food was disgusting. The only thing I could eat was tuna.
‘My baby got a cold in there and I wasn’t even allowed to give him teething salt because the sachets were confiscated.
‘We weren’t allowed to smoke for two weeks either or have fizzy drinks.
‘My hands are trembling, I’ve been a nervous wreck but we’re back now where we belong – with friends and family.
‘There were a few nice members of staff at the centre, our case worker Mary Shah and another worker called Nath. They were both lovely.
‘But I’m glad I’m out of the place, it was absolutely awful. So run down.
‘My biggest regret is that we are now banned from America for at least five years – even the kids.
‘I went to Disneyland as a child all the time and I want the same for my kids. It’s a shame because I would like to go back to the States.’
The family claim they were visiting Vancouver when Michael swerved to avoid hitting an animal following a fishing trip and in the confusion ended up on a country road out of Canada and into America where border police arrested them.
Eileen said: ‘I was in the back as a passenger but the car swerved suddenly went down a dip and ended up on a road into America.
‘We didn’t even know that we’d crossed over as when the patrols stopped us and told us we were in the US I said ‘No! We’re in Canada’.
Eileen hugged mother Mary outside Heathrow’s Terminal Three in an emotional reunion
The Connors family arrive at Heathrow Airport on Wednesday night following detention in US
David’s brother Michael (pictured) was also on the American Airlines flight from New York with their two-year-old twin daughters
Eileen, 24, said: ‘I’m so happy to be home, it’s been a complete nightmare. The one thing I’m really looking forward to is getting home into my own bed and just being left alone in peace with my baby’
‘We had the reservation for our hotel in Vancouver on my phone but they weren’t interested in seeing it. They just accused our of being illegal immigrants which was nonsense.’
David, 30, emerged first with Michael at about 10.25pm and said: ‘It’s been hell, I’m just glad it’s over and we’re home.’
Mother Mary added: ‘I’m so pleased they’re back, I was worried sick. I can’t wait to see my grandson again.’
David Connors, 30, and Eileen Connors, 24, (pictured) from London, say their three-month-old son was subjected to filthy conditions in the Berks Detention Center in Leesport, Pennsylvania
A spokesman from Aldea The People’s Justice Center, which has been representing the Connors, said that as of Wednesday, the family were no longer held in the Berks Family Residential Centre in Pennsylvania and were being ‘removed to the UK’.
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) confirmed all seven family members have been moved to Enforcement and Removal Operations in Seattle ‘to be processed as expedited removals’ but did not clarify their status further.
The Connors family claimed they did not realise they crossed the border south of Vancouver when they swerved into a side road to avoid hitting an animal while on holiday.
But American authorities disputed the family’s account, calling their actions ‘illegal’ and ‘deliberate’.
In a previously released statement, Eileen Connors said they tried to explain their ‘mistake’ but were not allowed to return to Canada.
‘We were detained anyway and treated in a way no human deserves to be treated,’ said Mrs Connors.
‘We have been treated like criminals here, stripped of our rights and lied to.’
Mrs Connors also complained of poor conditions in the detention centre including cold and inadequate facilities to feed her baby but said conditions improved after they were able to contact the British embassy.
The family claim they were visiting Vancouver when Michael swerved to avoid hitting an animal following a fishing trip (pictured: Members of the Connors family arrive at Heathrow)
In the confusion the family ended up on a country road out of Canada and into America where border police arrested them, they said
Eileen said it was ‘like an abduction or kidnapping’ when they were put in a van and driven to the airport
UK citizens David Connors, 30, and Eileen Connors, 24, were detained at Berks Detention Center in Pennsylvania with their three-month-old son
The family said Michael turned onto an unmarked road and within moments, multiple police cars and Border Patrol agents appeared
But in a statement on Wednesday the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said its evidence contradicted that of the Connors family.
A spokesperson said: ‘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.’
Eileen (pictured) said her son was stripped naked and exposed with his clothes and blankets taken for washing
David and Eileen Connors, 30 and 24, from London, (pictured together) were held with their three-month old son in a US jail after ‘accidentally crossing into the US’
The statement said the family members were arrested minutes later on suspicion of illegally entering the United States without inspection.
Attempts were made to return the individuals to Canada, however Canada refused to allow their return and two attempts to contact the United Kingdom consulate were unsuccessful, the CBP said.
The CBP added two adult family members were previously denied travel authorisation to come to the United States.