Victim of a case of mistaken identity, Teodora Aparicio is currently battling a deportation case. She still wears an ankle bracelet so that ICE can track her whereabouts. Photo Nina Menconi

Twenty-four years after migrating to the U.S., Teodora Aparicio’s fight for safety and security remains unresolved as she challenges her deportation.

“I’m from Arteaga, Michoacan. I came because my boyfriend was murdered. I was 15 years old and we were planning on getting married,” recounted Aparicio of the traumatic experience that compelled her to move to the U.S.

On Dec. 13, 2012, Aparicio was volunteering at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting when she was approached by police officers.
“I showed them my license and then they folded it and threw it in the trash. Then they told me I was a different person: Valeria Contreras. How could I be Valeria Contreras?” she argued.

Later, police scanned her fingerprints and shared them with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). They were able to share this information under Secure Communities, or “S-Comm,” a program implemented in 2009 by the Department of Homeland Security. S-comm permits an information sharing practice between ICE and the criminal justice system.

According to ICE’s website, “Secure Communities is a simple and common sense way to carry out ICE’s priorities.”

Over 1.5 million people were deported during President Barack Obama’s first tenure alongside the implementation of the S-comm program.

Photo Nina Menconi

In Aparacio’s case, the use of S-comm exacerbated a simple case of mistaken identity. As a result, she was in custody for 11 days before permitted to leave on Christmas Eve to be home with her husband and four children.

“My 4-year-old son cried so much. He was always looking for me saying ‘mommy, where are you?’” said Aparacio. The police and sheriff have yet to admit mistaking Aparicio’s identity.

Though Aparicio was able to return to her family, she had to agree to wear an ankle bracelet to track her whereabouts and report to ICE weekly in San Francisco. Her deportation case is still pending.

As plans for immigration reform unfold in the coming months, there has been little talk about plans to end the practice of transferring information from the police to ICE through the implementation of S-comm, regardless of criminal charges.

“With the reform, all they want to do is feed the media hype and hide the fact that people are being continuously deported and abused,” said Aparicio when asked about her opinions or hope for reform.

For help with immigration issues contact Causa Justa:

This piece is part of the UndocuLove op-ed series focusing on migration and relationships. To share a story please write us at