The Unraveling of the American Dream

For Latinx families who migrated to the United States for a better future, the Uvalde shooting is a harsh reminder that the safety and prosperity they once moved here for may no longer be tangible.

Uvalde shooting family mourning

In the wake of the Uvalde school shooting, we're already starting to see rhetoric examining whether the gunman crossed borders and have lost track of the bigger problem at hand: Guns.

On Tuesday, May 24, an 18-year-old shooter toting a handgun, two rifles, and ammunition opened fire at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, killing two teachers and 19 students. It has been reported as the second deadliest school shooting in the United States, following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012. The horrific incident on Tuesday took place just days after 10 innocent Black Americans were gunned down by a shooter at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York.

The loss of innocent lives in this country continues to devastate families, leaving many baffled as to what is being done to end the problem of domestic terrorism in the United States.

The gunman from Tuesday's massacre in Uvalde allegedly confessed to shooting his 66-year-old maternal grandmother, Celia Martinez, before heading to the school. He lived with his maternal grandparents and his mother also lived in the town nearby. His father was reportedly not present in his life.

He was described as a loner, who was bullied in school and kept to himself. The gunman had no criminal history. However, he did have a vested interest in firearms and ammunition. So, when he turned 18 last week, he gifted himself two AR platform rifles and ammo, which he purchased legally.

The shooters' background parallels other mass shooters in America, but this time the shooters' cultural identity has been brought into the conversation by individuals that want to tie the massacre to a call for more border security. These ideologies are a distraction from the heart of the problem, gun control or the lack thereof in the United States. Instead, factoring in the gunman's Mexican heritage is not only completely ludicrous, but it could prove to be detrimental to immigrants in this country, who came to the United States to obtain the American dream.

My grandparents migrated from Puerto Rico in the early '60s with hopes of acquiring the American dream for themselves and their five children. My mother was the baby of the family. She was born in Puerto Rico and raised in New London, Connecticut with her brother and three sisters. My grandparents endured hard labor to support their family and purchase a home. Although my grandmother could not read or write and barely spoke English, she was able to land a job at a belt factory where she worked for over 45 years.

The journey of my family settling in Connecticut began with my grandparents, who left the only home they'd ever known to uproot their family and open opportunities not offered to them on the island. This included education and work as well as the overall salud of the familia.

But, is the American Dream unraveling?

Like my family, many of those families of the victims moved here for a better life. To live the American dream sold to so many of us. Lately it's hard to remember how the Unite States was ever the promised land though, with trans rights and reproductive rights being swiftly taken away. And for these families, instead of being able to simply mourn their children and be angry like others on social media, these families faced a level of fears that white families would never have to endure when they saw about 80 border patrol agents on the scene–the SWAT-like elite team known as BORTAC, or Border Patrol Tactical Unit, amongst them.

Fear is rising in Latinx comunidades across the United States. Especially in youth who are afraid their actions could lead to the deportation of a parent or other family member. Many are so afraid of immigration enforcement that 30% of sampled Latino youth in a study by The Migration Policy Institute said they avoided simple acts like driving and extra curricular activities to keep their families safe.

Our children deserve to feel protected. We deserve to feel protected. But now as we learn more about the timeline in Uvalde shooting it's clear that law enforcement did not value the lives of these predominantly Latinx children as much as they valued their own.

Uvalde, which is 54 miles from the Mexico-United States border, is home to many Latinx families, which represent 73 percent of the population in the county. The 19 innocent children, who were all around 10-years-old and the two teachers murdered in cold blood before police shot and killed him were predominately Latinx.

Seeing the border patrol we imagine was nothing less than triggering for these families.

So let's not get distracted by right-wing internet propaganda and remember the issue at hand. This travesty is about a young man being able to legally purchase firearms and ammo and use them to kill innocent people, who cannot defend themselves. This is not about cultural identity or border security. It's a cowardly act and the current gun laws in many states across the United States make it too easy for anyone with an agenda to use their firearms in the most evil of ways.

Until the issue of gun control is resolved on the state and federal levels in the United States, we can only hope the American dream once again becomes a reality.

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