An 8-year-old Salvadoran girl who reported she was raped by immigrant smugglers in Mexico has been reunited with family in the United States, an attorney for her grandmother said.
Immigration attorney Jessica Dominguez said Monday the girl was granted humanitarian parole by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to be able to enter the country.
The girl's paternal grandmother, who is a U.S. citizen and lives in Southern California, is seeking custody of the child and will try to help her obtain a green card, Dominguez said.
The grandmother is expected to speak at a news conference Tuesday.
Dominguez said she has been fighting for the girl's release from Mexican immigration authorities for several weeks since the girl told a fellow bus passenger that she had been raped by three men on the journey from El Salvador to the United States.
Mexican authorities granted the girl a humanitarian visa last week, paving the way for her departure after three weeks in the government's care.
Dominguez said she did not believe it would be safe for the girl to return to El Salvador after reporting the alleged crime to authorities.
"If this child goes back to El Salvador, her life is in danger, because she was brave enough to say, `he, and he, and he,'" Dominguez said.
Immigrant advocates say the case is a tragic reminder of the perils of paying smugglers to bring family across the border.
"Parents should really think twice _ or more than twice _ before they decide to either have an adult come over, a woman by herself, or even a child," said Jorge-Mario Cabrera, a spokesman for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles. "Things are getting so bad ... you may not see your child again."
It was not immediately clear who paid to smuggle the child to the United States. Other relatives reportedly made the request after the family faced gang threats in El Salvador and became concerned for the girl's safety, Cabrera said.
The El Paso Times reported that the girl's parents also live in the U.S. and paid a smuggler $7,000.
The Associated Press does not normally identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault.