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Rosemary Scott and her husband hold candles during the candlelight vigil sponsored by the Inter-Faith Sanctuary Colaition and Dignidad Inmigrante En Athens on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2018, near Athens-Clarke City County Hall in Athens, Georgia. Members of the community and a few students gathered to show their support for the freedom of movement, justice for asylum seekers and reuniting families. (Photo/Rebecca Wright)

A salutation of “bienvenidos” and “welcome” greeted a crowd of about 70 people outside City Hall on Dec. 12.

Interfaith Sanctuary Coalition and Dignidad Inmigrante en Athens hosted a candlelight vigil to bring attention to the immigrants and their families separated at the U.S.-Mexican border, immigrants arrested for driving without a license and those seeking asylum.

“This is more than a demonstration. It’s a vigil,” said Joel Siebentritt, chair of the Interfaith Sanctuary Coalition Board of Directors, who interpreted the prayers, scripture and poetry to Spanish throughout the night. “I’m sad that we have to be here tonight. But we have to be here tonight.”

Braving the 46-degree weather was Gustavo Cervantes, a University of Georgia student who read a Bible scripture to draw attention to how immigrants are treated and set the tone of the evening.

“When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him,” Cervantes read. “You shall love him as yourself for you live as foreigners in the land of Egypt.”

Cervantes is also a member of the Catholic Center at UGA, which led the group in prayer and song.

The event was brought about in a time of hostility toward immigrants, the recent migrant caravan and the tear gas used against people near the border.

Art Rosenbaum, a Grammy-winning artist and folklorist, reinforced this theme through the song “Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)” written by Woody Guthrie and Martin Hoffman.

“You won’t have a name when you ride the big airplane,” Rosenbaum sang. “All they will call you will be deportees.”

Art Rosenbaum, a musician, performed a cover of the song "Deportee" at theDec. 12 candlelight vigil hosted by Interfaith Sanctuary Coalition and Dignidad Inmigrante.

Aside from warming shivering people, candles were lit to honor immigrants and their families.

“It’s an important event for Latinos here in the United States that need a little support,” said Alejandro Hernandez, an 18-year Athens resident, who brought his children to the vigil. It’s an act that reflects the unity of so many Americans, blacks, Hispanics, all living in the community.

Dustin Cannarella, an Athens resident and teacher at Apalachee High School in Barrow County, works with students to promote inclusivity and equality.

“We have a lot of people in our community here that need people advocating on their behalf,” Cannarella said. “People that are privileged and fortunate enough to be able to come out and advocate for them, I feel a moral obligation to do so.”

After two hours of standing in the cold, the Oconee Street United Methodist Church choir sang to close the vigil.

“Peace now. We bring you peace now,” they sang.

A few of the Oconee Street United Methodist Church members sang "Peace Now" to end the Dec. 12 candlelight vigil hosted by the Interfaith Sanctuary Coalition and Dignidad Inmigrante en Athens.