The Connors family had no idea they would end up in U.S. immigration custody for more than a week when they took a detour around an animal blocking the road near the U.S.-Canada border.
On a vacation to Vancouver, the British family — two couples and their three young children — were stopped by an American officer later that night and informed they had wandered into U.S. territory, according to The Washington Post.
Eileen Connors, one of the mothers on the trip, said when they were stopped in Washington state, her husband and his cousin were arrested. She also alleged that they were not informed of their rights, adding that “and she and her baby were placed in ‘a very cold cell’ at a Border Patrol station,” per The Hill.
The family filed a complaint with the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, saying their detention was “the scariest experience of our lives."
“We will never forget, we will be traumatized for the rest of our lives by what the United States government has done to us,” she wrote in a sworn statement, adding: “We have been treated like criminals here, stripped of our rights, and lied to. … It is undoubtedly the worst experience we have ever lived through.”
“The officers left us in the cell the entire day, with no information, no call to our family back home, no idea when we would be free to leave,” Connors wrote.
The next day, the family was taken to the Seattle airport, leading Connors to believe they were heading home, but instead, the plane carried them to Pennsylvania, where they are currently being held at the Berks Family Residential Center.
Connors went on to describe horrendous conditions inside the facility, including blankets and sheets that smelled “like a dead dog.”
The Hill reported that as of late Monday, the family was still awaiting deportation, with the possibility they could leave on Tuesday, according to their attorney.