PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Her name is Anna. She’s a 14-year-old who fled her native El Salvador with her 12-year-old sister, Maria, to find a new life here in Pittsburgh.
They are just two of the estimated 60,000 young people who have come to the United States to escape poverty, or in their case, the brutality of drug cartels.READ MORE: Pittsburgh-Area Outpatient Monoclonal Antibody Infusion Clinic To Expand Appointments Due To Demand
“A girl from my school was kidnapped and raped,” said Anna through her translator.
The girls say they moved to three different towns in El Salvador to escape the gangs before going on a dangerous journey to connect with relatives here in the Pittsburgh area.
Translator: “Her fear was that she would be kidnapped or they would do something to her physically.”
KDKA’s Andy Sheehan: “And you felt that you had to get out?”
Translator: “Yes, she did.”
Immigration attorney Andrew Wood is representing the girls in a series of deportation hearings before an immigration judge who sits in Philadelphia but hears cases over a video monitor on the South Side.READ MORE: FBI Investigates Slew Of Threats At Pittsburgh-Area School Districts
Wood says all these kids caught at the border deserve their day in court.
“If we send them back across the border summarily without facing an immigration judge, were sending them back into a very dangerous situation where they can be killed,” said Wood.
The girls are hopeful that the judge will rule in their favor, grant them asylum and allow them to stay.
Sheehan: “Are you afraid here.”
Translator: “She has no fear here; but in El Salvador, yes, she does.”
Anna and Maria have a hearing next week, but it likely will be more than a year before they get an actual trial. For now, they are going to school and happy not to be going back to El Salvador.
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