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Mario J. Aranda, Advocate for Immigrant Rights, Dies at 79

Mario Jaime Aranda was born on July 14, 1941, in Bella Vista, Chihuahua, Mexico, to Salomón Aranda and Angela (Carrasco) Ivey. The family lived in a Mormon colony and immigrated to the United States in the 1950s when Salomón was hired at Brigham Young University to teach painting.

Mario Aranda enrolled at Brigham Young, cleaning toilets to pay his tuition. He married a fellow student, Dana Rosado, in 1965, and the couple moved to Chicago a decade later when Mr. Aranda was hired by the Illinois department of education to institute bilingual classes in schools.

Early in Mr. Aranda’s life, his mother got him to read Gandhi and focus on peace, activism and literature. The discrimination he and his family faced as Mormons in Mexico, and then as Mexican immigrants in America, further sharpened Mr. Aranda’s resolve to question power structures and give dignity and opportunity to marginalized people.

“It strengthened him to speak truth to power,” Mario Jr. said.

In addition to his son Mario Jr. and his daughter Xan, Mr. Aranda is survived by his husband, Greg Hinson; his daughters Xiomara Sanchez and Ximen Christiansen; his sons Julian, Jacob and Joseph Aranda; two stepchildren, Kai Hinson and Xena Hinson; three sisters, Gloria Lewis, Lili Davis and Teresa Aranda; and six grandchildren.

Mr. Hinson met Mr. Aranda in 2000, when he was working as a clinical director at a women’s shelter in the East Bay. The person he came to marry was still committed to improving people’s lives and became devoted to his new family, helping to raise Mr. Hinson’s children from a previous marriage. By then, Mr. Aranda had left the Mormon Church and was on a kind of spiritual quest.

Finally able to slow down a bit in retirement, he was reading philosophy, swimming, hiking and meditating.

“He was constantly engaged, constantly talking to other people and seeking advice,” Mr. Hinson said. “He’d go through volumes and volumes of books. His mind never retired.”

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