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July 28, 2014 06:46 AM

Guatemalan Family Reunites After 14 Years

Huron, SD

Twenty-one unaccompanied minors are in South Dakota after crossing illegally into the United States in recent months.

This mother and her two teenage boys are sitting close to each other now, but just weeks ago they were thousands of miles apart.

Julio and Kevin Lopez, were living with their grandmother in Guatemala. Julio says he feared for his life daily while dealing with violence in his home country. 

"There were a lot of gangs. And they wanted me to join them. They looked for me, when they were out, they stopped me in front of all of them. They wanted me to join them, and my brother too," Julio Lopez said. "They robbed from homes and assaulted people."

The brothers knew they needed to leave the violence. They made the trip into America with other kids through the Arizona border.

"It's dangerous to come from there to here. To be without water, without food, unable to walk, to drop to the ground, you faint," Kevin Lopez said.

They were caught by migration officials at the border and split up. Julio was sent to Phoenix, while Kevin went to San Antonio.

"I was surprised that they were there, I ran to her, perhaps she could help me," Rosalia said.

Becky Rogers was able to lend a hand. The Huron women helped Rosalia fill out the correct paperwork to get her sons and proves she's able to provdie for them financially.

"These children, the number one thing is that they can never become a ward of the state. They can never use programs through the government because they are going through the deportation process," Becky Rogers said.

Now after spending weeks in the homes, the teenagers reunited with their mother after 14 years. 

"We feel united, with my three other kids; I have three other kids born here, and well, we feel happy," Rosalia said.

The family has been together for six weeks now. They are currently waiting for a date to visit Immigration and Customs Enforcement court to determine if the boys could be deported back to Guatemala. They aren't focusing on that, but instead, the time they have together.

"When one comes here, you risk your life. There are a lot of possibilities ... In the desert, lost as we were, without water, without anything," Julio says.

Even though it was a long difficult road, the family that was finally reunited says the journey is worth it.

"I never thought that I was going to see them again because...looking at all the things that are happening there, well, it was a great surprise," Rosalia said.

And the mother says the surprise is thanks to the efforts from Rogers.

"I give thanks to Becky, she gave me support," Rosalia said. "She oriented me, more than anything."

Rogers says seeing a family walking down the sidewalk together, makes the hard work gratifying.

"Helping these children, it's been very rewarding because God doesn't see colors, we are all his children," Rogers said.

Two weeks ago in Guatemala, the family's grandmother's home was robbed by gang members. We're told she lost everything she owned.

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