“I came here for the security my country cannot provide for me,” she told CNN in a recent interview. “The fear will never go away. What I experienced is a fear that will last a lifetime.”

A few days after she left Mexico, Valles Garcia learned her mother’s house had been ransacked. She is hiding in the United States while she awaits a ruling in her asylum case, and agreed to speak with CNN in El Paso, Texas.

The asylum process is a lengthy legal road that could take up to three years, El Paso attorney Carlos Spector said, and there’s no guarantee U.S. authorities will grant the request.

But Spector said one thing is certain: Going back to Mexico would be a death sentence.

“I have no doubt she will be killed,” said Spector, who calls Valles Garcia “the Rosa Parks of Mexico.”

“She is a trophy for the cartels. She represented the average person saying, ‘No more,’” he said.