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It’s been more than 20 years since Miguel Aparicio has been in the United States. He moved here when he was 15 years old with his grandmother. He graduated high school, and with a cross-country scholarship, Aparicio was able to attend college. His love for the sport inspired him to coach others, and since then, he has completed 12 seasons as a volunteer cross-country assistant coach at one of the toughest high schools in Phoenix, Arizona. He and head coach Carlo Borja have led the Phoenix Alhambra boys cross-country team to state championships in 2007, 2009 and 2010. They even won the state runner-up title in 2008. Since they first started coaching together, the two of them have also sent 10 athletes to college with academic and/or athletic scholarships. There’s more on him in this Runner’s World article (worth the read) written by John Brant:
Miguel Aparicio lived for his coaching, which he performed on a volunteer basis and subsidized out of his own pocket. Every year he bought the team new uniforms and each summer rented a cabin for a two-week preseason training camp in the mountains near Flagstaff. He also spent heavily on gas, driving the boys home after practice, and to the movies and other outings on weekends and vacations. He racked up these bills without complaint because the team formed his family. The seven boys and their two coaches had stuck together through withering summer training and the highs and lows of the state championships.
In April of 2009, he was detained for allegedly running a school stop sign, but the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition tells a different story:
In April 2009 he was stopped by a Sheriff Deputy in Casa Grande, for no reason. He spent seven weeks in an immigration detention center.
The community loves Miguel so deeply that when he was told by the school district he longer could be assistant coach, both Head Coach Borjas and the students rallied together. Coach Borjas was fired for non-compliance and the students refused to run for another coach.
Although Coach Carlos was able to regain his position as the head cross-country coach, Coach Miguel was not allowed to continue volunteering with them. What is worse, he is currently scheduled to be deported today! If he is deported, every student and their family who was part of the Alhambra cross-country team would be forced to say good-bye to their coach who, to some, served as a father figure.
Now 38, Miguel would not be able to benefit from the DREAM Act if it were passed. But as United We DREAM points out, his story has inspired and changed the lives of many – both undocument and not.
United We DREAM has started a petition asking Secretary Janet Napolitano to halt his deportation. Please sign it, and share his story on facebook. Your signature could help Coach Miguel at home with those he loves – and those who also clearly love him.