Until April of 2009, when he was detained for allegedly running a school stop sign, Miguel had completed 12 seasons as a volunteer cross-country assistant coach. Along with his partner, the head coach Carlos Borja, they led the Phoenix Alhambra boys cross country team to a state championships in 2007, 2009 and 2010, as well as a state runner-up title in 2008 . The pair has also sent 10 athletes to college with academic and/or athletic scholarships since they first started coaching together.
The deputy asked him for his driver's license, and Aparicio said that he didn't have one. The deputy asked for Mendez's ID and got the same answer. The deputy remained calm and businesslike. Aparicio was calm, too. Now that the moment he'd dreaded for years had finally arrived, he almost felt relieved
His grandmother paid a coyote $300. That man took them to the border—then an unimposing chain-link fence—where they waited for nightfall. Then, as the U.S. Border Patrol began changing shifts, the coyote gave them a sign and they crawled through a hole beneath the fence. They hustled across the parking lot of a McDonald's, whose lights glowed ghostly in the fog, a wetback version of Lady Liberty, welcoming the boy to America.
**Aparicio imagined how he'd explain how he had been a good, hard-working man during his 20 years in the United States. Starting from nothing, he'd attained an education, learned a useful trade, built a top high-school running program, and helped dozens of young Latino men to attend college and embark on careers. Aparicio was no saint—he'd been convicted on a DUI charge in 2002, and had driven without a valid license after that **(by that time, Arizona required proof of legal presence and wouldn't reissue him one). But he felt that, on balance, he'd lived an upstanding life that would bear scrutiny. He just needed a judge to hear his story. Sadly, most inmates in the jail, and most of the estimated 12 million unauthorized residents nationwide, had an American story.***Aparicio's parents lived in Mexico. His grandmother possessed a green card, an ID that attests to an alien's permanent resident status, but their relationship wasn't close enough.**She couldn't save Aparicio from the fact that when he was 15, he'd followed her under the fence in Nogales.*And over the ensuing two decades, he'd failed to take the path toward citizenship. For five years, he'd been married to a U.S. citizen, who could have sponsored his application. But Aparicio hadn't followed through.
In 1997*, he began volunteering
When he first applied at South Mountain, he had a valid Arizona driver’s license, he got it before the state started asking for Social Security numbers to apply for one. In order to present a Social Security number, he made up one.
The school district even fingerprinted him and did a background check on him, he says. Somehow he was still cleared to be a volunteer cross-country coach.
He re-applied every year, so each year the school district officials always had a chance to find out about his immigration status, but they didn’t.
“I believe the school district office wasn’t doing their job,” he points out.“Because I was able to work for…many years.”
But even so, the district let him go on as a volunteer coach after he had brought up the incident to district officials.
By this time “the [school officials] must have known that I was illegal,” Aparicio asserts.
Phoenix New Times
Runners Magazine Phoenix,