CHICAGO A Chicago grandmother is pleading for custody of her three grandchildren after their father was brutally murdered in Mexico last year.

Maria, Regina and Johann Vargas were left alone on the streets of Cancún last year after their father’s body was found in pieces. Their mother was later arrested for her role in other gruesome crimes.

“I don’t want those children in the hands of human traffickers, those are murderers and we would have never seen those children,” Julie Contreras of United Giving Hope said.

With the help of Mexican priests and nuns, those children found their way to the United States border. The children, ages 9, 6 and 5 have arrived traumatized, with the youngest unable to speak at all.

“One of the priests walked all the way in and sat with the child until the child was handed over to the Office of Refugee and Resettlement,” Contreras said.

It’s been nearly a year since their father’s murder, and the children are still yet to be reunited with the only family they have in the United States, their grandparents in Chicago.

The children are technically in the custody of the US Office of Refugee and Resettlement, but advocates say the children are off the grid, as the family has no knowledge of their whereabouts or conditions.

“This country is about to celebrate Independence Day, but for who? Not for children in cages,” advocate Vanessa Alas said.