When I first heard the story of the Connors family and their involvement with CBP on CNN, I honestly didn’t pay that much attention to it. The British family had allegedly accidentally veered over the Canadian border into the United States and been apprehended. They were turned over to ICE and put in detention, including their three year old child. Some outlets were wringing their hands as usual about the “cruelty of immigration officials” in dealing with this poor family, but it sounded like something that would be sorted out presently.
But now, as more details emerge, things are looking increasingly strange. We’re still not sure what the entire story is, but the Connors are clearly more than they first appeared. For starters, they didn’t “accidentally take a wrong turn.” They were caught on video intentionally driving across a grassy strip between two roads, one on the Canadian side and one in the U.S. And things only got stranger from there. (WaPo)
The family’s attorney, Bridget Cambria, said her clients were driving near the U.S. border south of Vancouver on Oct. 2 when they swerved to avoid an animal and veered into the United States inadvertently. The family members said they were stopped by a U.S. agent, were denied a request to return to Canada, and instead were sent to a family detention center in Pennsylvania, where they are being held pending deportation.
CBP officials disputed the family’s version of events and said the Connors were spotted via video surveillance “slowly and deliberately driving through a ditch onto Boundary Road in Blaine, Washington” between parallel roadways on the U.S. and Canadian sides. The roads are not connected by cross streets, and the only legal way to traverse between the countries is at staffed border stations throughout the region.
Cambria could not immediately be reached Tuesday for comment.
The idea that somebody “swerved to avoid an animal” and wound up in the wrong country was a bit of a stretch to begin with. But as I mentioned above, the story quickly grew even more complicated.
It turns out that the Connors had applied for a travel visa to come to the United States last year but they were denied. The reason for the denial wasn’t provided, but there must have been some disqualifying factor. Generally, applications to visit from Great Britain are approved almost automatically because of our close relationship with them.
Also, taking them to detention was not CBP’s first attempted solution. They initially tried to return them to Canada where they presumably belonged. (In fact, that what the Connors requested.) But the Canadians wouldn’t allow them back in the country. (Again, no reason for the denial was offered.) Next, CPB tried to contact the British embassy to see about sending them home. Their call was not returned.
The next odd detail is that the Connors were found to have $16,000 in cash in their vehicle. That’s not technically illegal if they declared the money when entering the country and people are entitled to spend money on vacation, but that’s one heck of a lot of cash to have in the trunk. You’d think they would be using plastic or at least traveler’s checks.
Finally, CBP threw up their hands and put them in detention while beginning the steps to process them for deportation to England. What else were they supposed to do?
But seriously… what the heck is going on here? The family tried to get a visa but were denied and then they’re found sneaking over the border with a car full of cash. There’s obviously more to this story than meets the eye. And it’s certainly not a case of CBP cruelly mistreating a family as it was originally advertised.