The death of Celso Mireles, a “dreamer” known as an innovator and artist, shook many in the Phoenix Latino community and those impressed by his kindness, insight and passion.

Mireles,30, died on his way to work Tuesday morning after a pickup hit his motorcycle near 12th Street and Missouri Avenue in Phoenix, police said.

The truck driver was cited with running a red light and driving without a license, police said.

Mireles was born in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and grew up in Phoenix. He had a work permit and deferred deportation through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.

He was a self-taught Web developer and was the “guy behind the scenes” of local and national online campaigns to stop deportations, said his wife, Ileana Salinas.

“He believed in justice,” Salinas said. “He always greeted me with a smile. We fell in love through music.”

Innovating to stop deportations

Mireles co-founded the Arizona Dream Act Coalition, which advocates for immigration reform and for access to higher education for immigrant youths. He played the guitar, wrote songs and poems, and loved riding his motorcycle, Salinas said.

In 2011, Mireles started a tech-support company, Dude Services LLC. On his website, he described himself as a lifelong learner and said he was “Ni de aquí, Ni de allá” ? in Spanish, “Neither from here, nor from there.”

His latest project involved developing a Web application to alert migrants nationwide of confirmed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids.

Developing a tool to prevent deportations was his dream, Salinas said.

“He knew that through his work he would only plant a seed, … but we would need to keep on fighting,” Salinas said.

Tributes on social media

In social-media posts Wednesday, dozens of leaders in the local Latino community celebrated Mireles as humble, talented, resourceful and revolutionary.

Raquel Terán, an organizer with Planned Parenthood Arizona, remembered Mireles as an uplifting guitarist whose tunes soothed protesters at immigration rallies and vigils.

Phoenix immigration attorney Daniel Rodriguez said Mireles’s love “was a candle in the shadows” and “touched many people across many border(s).”

Many ended their posts with the words, “Rest In Power.”

The GoFundMe page his family set up to cover funeral costs had raised more than $19,000 as of Wednesday evening.

Mireles also is survived by his parents, Luz Elena and Celso Mireles Sr., and his siblings, Mayra, Guadalupe and Emmanuel.


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