Parents of "Dreamer" who died attempting Harvey rescues speak out

LUFKIN, Texas -- The toll from Harvey includes a 31-year old undocumented immigrant who could have faced deportation next year. Instead, he died a hero.

Rita Ruiz de Guillen remembered her son Alonso as a caring person with a big heart.

"My son went to a place where there are no borders. God never places borders," she said.

And, she said, the images of people stranded in Houston floodwaters affected Alonso deeply. That's why last Tuesday, he and a friend drove 120 miles from Lufkin, Texas, to Houston to rescue people stuck in an apartment.

They were in a boat that hit a bridge and capsized. He and his friend went underwater. 

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Rita Ruiz de Guillen and Jesus Guillen

CBS News

The next day, his father, Jesus, went to look for his son's body.

"He is my son and I made a promise to not to come back until finding him because I could not leave him there. It hurts so much to lose him," he said.

Four days later, they found Guillen's body downstream.

Guillen, a 31-year-old father and a dog lover, worked as a DJ in Lufkin. He can be seen in a video urging people to vote, even though he couldn't cast a ballot.

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Alonso Guillen

Mike Koenig

Guillen came to the U.S. from Mexico when he was 15 to live with his dad, a permanent resident. He signed up for DACA, and as a "Dreamer," was working toward citizenship.

Guillen's mother supports DACA, and says there are other young Dreamers who share her son's spirit and who are making this country great. 

"The U.S. should see that there is a lot of future for these young people. If they get the opportunity, they'll do a lot for this nation. That's what they should be thinking about. People like Alonso," she said.

Residents in his adopted hometown are raising money for his funeral.

CBS will join the other major television networks to bring you a one-hour telethon for flood victims. "Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Harvey Relief" airs Tuesday, Sept. 12, at 8 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. CT.