In 2015, Alex and Jose Rivera were in El Salvador when their mother was kidnapped. With the family unable to pay the ransom, their mother simply "disappeared." Fearing for the safety of the two boys, a friend helped the two siblings escape north to the United States.
After spending a month in detention, the two brothers were eventually granted asylum, indefinitely.
"It was really scary for me," Jose Rivera remembers that he did not even speak English when he arrived.
Three years later, the two brothers are 14 and 15 years old, live in San Juan Capistrano and plan to apply for residency, which was a progression their aunt, Marta Garcia, could never have imagined when she got a call from the boys at the Texas border.
"You don't think about green card or the legal way or not," Garcia says. "You just think, 'I have to run for my life.'"
They boys' attorney says they had to jump through a lot of hoops, including showing credibility at their young age, but the lawyer also says many judges understand that children can tell their own story, sad as that story may be.