A broad coalition of labor, immigrant rights, and faith-based organizations is coming together to plan a grand welcome for the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride when it reaches Tucson on Sept. 24. Support for the action has also come from Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva and Pima County Supervisor Richard Elias. A huge welcome is being planned with Tucson Catholic Bishop Gerald Kicanas celebrating a special mass for the freedom riders, followed by a procession through downtown Tucson.

The events in Tucson, as well as similar actions in Phoenix the previous evening, are being coordinated by the state AFL-CIO leadership. Plans are for 20 new freedom riders to join the caravan at each of the two Arizona cities.

Local organizers hope that, while the freedom riders are in Tucson, emphasis will be on the failed U.S. border policies.

Tucson immigrant rights activists are hoping there will be time for a trip to the U.S.-Mexico border to draw attention to the fences and walls that separate our two nations and that cause immigrants to cross the border in the hottest and most inhospitable parts of the Sonoran Desert. This has resulted in a huge increase in deaths from heat and dehydration as summer temperatures regularly climb to over 110 degrees.

The author can be reached at stelnik@webtv.net