A British family have been detained after they accidentally crossed into the US while trying to avoid hitting an animal on the road.
David Connors, 30, his wife Eileen, 24, and their three-month-old son claim they took a wrong turn as they were driving across the US-Canada border near Vancouver during a family holiday on 3 October.
They were pulled over and arrested by a police officer who said they had entered the US state of Washington.
The family insist they were unaware they had crossed the border.
Mr Connors’ brother Michael, his wife Grace, and their two-year-old twin daughters are also believed to have been detained.
The family’s lawyer said the Connors have been left “traumatised” by the ordeal and allege they have been mistreated while in detention.
The couple say they were initially separated after their arrest – David Connors was taken to a Washington detention center, while Grace was placed in a hotel with her son.
All three were later flown to the Berks Family Residential Center (BFRC) in Leesport, Pennsylvania, where they have been held since 5 October.
They say they have been kept in “frigid “temperatures in their cells and their three-month-old baby appears to have an eye infection and” rough and blotchy skin “due to the poor conditions.
Bridget Cambria, of Aldea – The People’s Justice Center, filed a complaint on behalf of the family with the US Department of Homeland Security.
According to the complaint, Mrs Connors said her son’s formula was confiscated for three days at BRFC.
She says in the complaint: “When I ask ‘How I am supposed to keep my baby warm in this horrible cold?’, all they tell me is to put a hat on him.
“My baby can’t wear a hat all the time, he feels uncomfortable with hats and mittens and starts to cry.”
However a statement from US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) says video footage shows the family’s car entering the US by “slowly and deliberately driving through a ditch”.
“The seven occupants of the vehicle , who are citizens of the United Kingdom, were arrested at approximately 9. 13 pm, in accordance with law as established by the Immigration and Nationality Act for illegally entering the United States without ins pection, “it said.
CBP claimed record checks showed two of the adults were previously denied authorization to enter the United States.
It added:” Attempts were made to return the individuals to Canada, however, Canada refused to allow their return and two attempts to contact the consulate for the United Kingdom were unsuccessful. “
The Foreign Office has confirmed the family are being held and says it is working with US authorities.
A spokesperson said: “We are providing assistance to a British family following their arrest in the USA and are in close contact with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has denied allegations of mistreatment at BRFC, saying they are “completely false and unfounded”.
An official said reports of abuse or inhumane conditions at the facility are “unequivocally false” and said it is “committed to ensuring that those in our custody reside in safe and humane environments and under appropriate conditions”.