Court date set for custody battle over 6-year-old - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Court date set for custody battle over 6-year-old ordered to live in Mexico

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The custody battle for a Salem girl ordered to live with her father in Mexico will once again go before a judge.

It's been a week since her family said goodbye to 6-year-old Yoselin. They don't know where she is now, but they're still fighting to keep her in the U.S. Now, there is a small chance those goodbyes came too soon.

"Thank God, that something's happening," said Yoselin's grandmother, Kerrie Lechuga.

She got the happy news in her mailbox Tuesday morning: a letter stating there would be a court hearing Thursday.

For months, she's fought to keep her granddaughter in Oregon. She says it's the only home Yoselin has ever known, but with the girl's mother unable to care for her and her father in Mexico, a judge ruled last month that the American-born girl should be sent to live in a country she's never seen.

"They want to send her to a totally different world," Lechuga said. "For as safe and as good as an environment Mexico could be, it's still a different world."

Yoselin is being sent to live with Alfonso Pantoja, her father, who was recently released from prison and deported to Mexico. That has Lechuga worried and looking for answers.

"Can you please at least discuss with us how you're going to make sure my granddaughter's safe?" she said.

She says the upcoming hearing could bring those worries to a halt. Lechuga thinks the focus won't be long-term custody, but rather keeping her granddaughter in the country.

Still, Lechuga knows better than to hope.

"With everything that we've been through, I'm hesitant," she said.

Lechuga plans to speak in court Thursday.

She says there is a protest organized outside the courthouse the morning of the hearing.

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