Welcome To America: An Immigrant’s Story: Immigrant Father looking for his son in a school shooting.
Hi! I’m Andres Mejer, Immigration Attorney, and an immigrant myself.
This is our new series, which we call Welcome to America: An Immigrant’s Story. In this series, we take a deeply personal look at the struggles immigrants face when coming to America and how many who were unauthorized to be in the United States ultimately got their legal status.
We will look at a different immigrant each month in four segments, one each week. Each segment will follow their progression from before they entered the US until they received legal status.
If you or a family member is an immigrant, you will be able to relate to these stories. More importantly, you may find hope and solutions to your personal immigration problem.
If you are not an immigrant, I think you will find these stories heartwarming and inspiring. At the very least, you will better understand the difficulties immigrants face.
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Also, I invite you to tell us about your immigration story in the comments section. We may use your story in a future episode or ask you to be a guest and share your story with our many followers. Together, we might just solve your immigration problem.
So, Welcome to America!
In this month’s episode of Welcome to America: An Immigrant’s Story, you will hear Gabriel’s amazing story. A 30-year-old father to a twelve-year-old boy, Juanito, who crossed the border to escape gang violence in their community in Mexico. But they went from one violent situation to another, when they happened into a mass shooting.
Gabriel is a father to a bright young boy – Juan – who is twelve years old. They are from Mexico but fled across the border to escape gang violence and drug cartels. Gabriel had tried hard to keep Juan away from gangs and out of trouble, but when gangs began to threaten his and Juan’s lives, he had no choice but to run. The US seemed like the safest bet.
In their newfound home across the border, Gabriel got a job working at a party rental store where he would load chairs and tables onto trucks to be delivered to local events. Occasionally, he would be asked to go with the truck to help set up an event.
One such time happened when Juan’s school was hosting a big fund-raising event, to raise funds to buy uniforms and instruments for the school band. It was going to be a large carnival-like event that was open to the public. So, Gabriel took Juan along to enjoy the event with the other kids from his school who were attending.
While Gabriel set up the event, Juan went off to play with his friends. Once the event started, Gabriel waited outside with the truck with the other people from his work to help pack up the tables and chairs after the event.
The workers had been resting near the truck for nearly an hour when suddenly they were startled by a quick succession of noises that were all too familiar to Gabriel’s ears. Bang! Bang! Bang! (pause) Bang! Bang! Bang! It was the terrifying sound of an assault rifle.
Without thinking, Gabriel jumped up and began running to where he believed he would find Juanito, as people covered in blood ran past him in the opposite direction.
The shouts, screams, and cries of the eventgoers were as deafening as the gunshots themselves, but Gabriel could not hear them. He was so focused on finding his boy that he felt alone despite the chaos around him.
When he entered the school, the halls were empty except for a few unlucky soles who had obviously perished from their wounds. The floors were slick with the blood of the victims and strewn with shell casings.
Gabriel slipped and fell on the slick floors. Now, covered in blood from the floor, he started to get up, when he saw one of the gunmen emerging from a door down the hall. Gabriel fell back to the bloody floor where he lay motionless, holding his breath as the armed killer stepped over him.
The thought of Juan being injured or dead at the hands of the gunmen terrified Gabriel. So, as soon as the shooter had disappeared from sight, Gabriel jumped to his feet. He began running toward a maintenance door that led to the corridor.
He was going to surreptitiously make his way down the corridor to a small storage room he and Juan had been in several times while setting up the event. Juan and his friends were playing near there, so he prayed that Juan had sought cover in that room.
Gabriel passed through the maintenance door and blocked it behind him. He checked the corridor, and it was clear. It did not appear that anyone had been in there. Gabriel made his way toward the storage room. The occasional gunshot would break the otherwise eerie silence of the corridor.
When Gabriel reached the storage room, the door would not open. It had been blocked from the inside. Softly, he called out Juan’s name but received no response. Gabriel tapped lightly on the door and called Juan’s name in a slightly louder voice.
This time, he heard what he had hoped for. “Papi, Papi is that you?” Juan shouted. Gabriel shushed his son and asked him to open the door. The door swung open. The children and adults hiding inside gasped as the blood-covered Gabriel appeared in the doorway.
Juan ran to his father crying. After a short embrace, Gabriel closed the door behind him. He told the children that he knew a way out. There was an exit they could get to just around the corner. It took a bit of convincing and encouragement, but the group agreed to follow him to what they hoped would be safety.
Gabriel opened the storage room door to see if it was safe to make a run for it, but as he opened the door it was suddenly forcefully pushed open. It was one of the gunmen. Gabriel’s cries had led him to them.
Gabriel struggled to close the door again. As he did, the gunman raised his assault rifle toward him. Gabriel closed his eyes knowing there was nothing further he could do to save Juan, the group or himself.
At that moment, a gunshot rang out, but it wasn’t from the gunman. Gabriel felt the splatter of blood and tissue across his face and heard a thud at his feet. The gunman was dead. Shot in the head by a school police officer who had bravely made his way alone into an active shooter situation.
The officer quickly gathered up the group and led them to the exit. They could hear more gunfire in the distance but felt safer with the officer there.
Once outside, they stood there with the rest of the eventgoers frozen. Silent. Then, they heard a police officer say, we got them, they’re dead. As if someone had thrown a switch, the group began to cry and embrace.
What lies ahead for Gabriel and Juan? They survived the horror and experienced a trauma no one should ever have to go through. Adults have a tough time dealing with such life-changing events but imagine what Juan and the other children are going through.
The entire family and all the families at the event will be forever scarred by two idiots with guns. But Gabrial and Juan have an additional concern. The police are now interviewing everyone at the scene. Will they ask about their status? Will they end up getting arrested and deported when the police interview them? Or is there a chance this tragedy might turn into something positive for this father and son?
Tune in next week so that you don’t miss hearing the rest of the story. Learn how Gabriel and Juan push through the trauma, work with the authorities and get legal status in the United States. And how you may be able to do the same.
Be sure to subscribe and hit the bell icon so you will be notified once the new episode is out! In the next episode, we’ll see three crucial factors that our immigrant father – Gabriel – needs to move forward and get legal status.
If you find this video informative, then like and share it with your friends or loved ones who are on their own immigration journey as well.
Also, please tell us about your story in the comments. We would love to hear from you, and your story may help someone else. If we like your story, you or your story may be featured in a future episode.
Until next week, stay healthy and be safe.