International Migrants Day Candlelight Vigil


    Hosted by Tucson Samaritans

    “Southern Arizona humanitarian, religious and Native American leaders will host a public sundown candlelight vigil beginning at 4 p.m. on International Migrants Day, Dec. 18 at the Tucson cemetery where the remains of hundreds of migrants discovered in the Sonoran Desert in Southern Arizona have been buried after attempts to identify many of them were exhausted.

    Pima County Medical Examiner Dr. Gregory Hess and leaders with Tucson Samaritans, the Colibrí Center for Human Rights, No More Deaths, Humane Borders, Derechos Humanos,Tucson-area churches, synagogues and mosques and the Tohono O’odham Nation and Pascua Yaqui Tribe will offer remembrances and prayers during the vigil at Evergreen Cemetery, 3015 N Oracle Rd, Tucson, AZ. (Use the entrance at the intersection of North Oracle Road and West Ft. Lowell Road. Drive straight west to a gravel parking lot.)

    “Our vigil is both a remembrance and a reminder of the horrific toll on people desperately seeking a better life or asylum in this country,” said Rev. John Fife, retired Minister of Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson and co-founder of the humanitarian groups Tucson Samaritans and No More Deaths. “This season of hope and love for all the world’s religions reminds us that humane, common-sense immigration reform, not militaristic cruelty, is urgently needed to end this humanitarian catastrophe.”

    During the service, participants will light 123 candles while reciting the names, if known, of 123 migrants whose remains were discovered in Southern Arizona during the 12 months ending Sept. 30, 2018. “We will come together as a community to remember and say the names of just some of those lost due to a heavily militarized border,” said Robin Reineke, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Tucson-based Colibrí Center for Human Rights. “They are unique, irreplaceable human lives, and we refuse to forget them.”

    Desconocido, Spanish for unknown, will be recited for each unidentified migrant. “A cross will be planted in memory of all the unidentified migrants,” said artist Alvaro Enciso whose Tucson Samaritan project “Where Dreams Die” includes the planting of crosses where remains are found.

    The remains of more than 2,700 migrants have been recovered since 2001 in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert within the jurisdictional area of the Pima County Office of Medical Examiner.

    Contact: Alvaro Enciso, (520) 269-5354,

    Photo by Rex Graham”
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    Carolyn Classen
    Carolyn Sugiyama Classen, a life long Democrat, was born & raised in the State of Hawaii, was a Legislative Aide for U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye on Capitol Hill, and practiced law for a while. In Tucson she worked as a tribal staff attorney for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and later was the Interim Executive Director of the now defunct Domestic Violence Commission. In 2008 she became a “My Tucson” guest columnist for the Tucson Citizen newspaper, then continued blogging for for over four and a half years. Her blogsite was entitled “Carolyn’s Community” about community events and some political news, until Gannett Publishing shut down the site on January 31, 2014. She started with Blog for Arizona on Feb. 11, 2014. Part time she has been sitting as a Hearing Officer in Pima County Consolidated Justice Courts Small Claims Division since April, 2005. She is married to University of Arizona Distinguished Professor Albrecht Classen, a native of Germany. They have one son, who lives in Seattle, WA with his wife and daughter. She is also the Editor of the Southern Arizona Japanese Cultural Coalition website, (since Jan. 2013).

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