When I was three years old, my family came to the U.S. in search of the American dream. My father, Alejandro, became a taxi driver in New York City, where, just 14 months later, he was shot and killed in an armed robbery by a passenger. My father was only 42 years old.
Years later, my family moved to Michigan. I remember being 13 and arguing with my brother, Alejandro Jr., over the TV every day after school. One weekend, he left for a sleepover with his best friend. I remember waving goodbye to him, not knowing that it would be the last time that I would see him alive. That night my mother and I received the terrible news that my brother was dead. His best friend shot him unintentionally with an unsecured, loaded gun, which he found while they were playing. My brother was only 14 years old.
I grew up without a father and brother, and I have felt their absence at every stage of my life. Sadly, my family’s American dream turned into a nightmare. Our faith has been our only source of strength and comfort. No family should have to lose a loved one due to senseless and preventable gun violence.