TUCSON, Ariz. - – One of the first undocumented immigrants in the country to get a work permit under president Obama's deferred action program lives right here in Arizona, in Tucson.
It's a controversial program -- allowing qualified persons to receive a two-year work permit that can be renewed without fear of deportation.
We met one of the first people to qualify. He came to the United States from Mexico when he was nine years old.
I worked in cleaning yards, landscaping… basically jobs they give to illegals.
- Carlos Martínez, Undocumented Immigrant
Carlos Martínez had an all-American childhood. High school sports star, on to the University of Arizona.
He got undergraduate and graduate degrees in computer engineering. But once the diplomas went up on the wall, Carlos slipped into the shadows, where's he's lived the last seven years.
"I worked in cleaning yards, landscaping… basically jobs they give to illegals that do not require show me your papers or your social number and all that."
"You have to be the most overqualified landscaper in Arizona. Nobody knows you are an engineer?" we asked.
"No when I am working out there they just think I am another illegal trying to make a living."
Then came the order from the Obama white house, giving people like Carlos an opportunity to get work permits. Carlos thanks the president.
"Oh completely grateful. Better late than never -- he is the only president who has given me the opportunity to work," says Carlos.
But work permits are a temporary fix. And Carlos will be watching November's election returns more closely than most.
If Barack Obama is reelected, Carlos stays and works in his field. If Mitt Romney wins, all bets are off.
Carlos will look for jobs as a computer software engineer.
He's still awaiting passage of the Dream Act. The Dream Act would provide a path to citizenship to 1.7 million young people brought to the U.S. illegally. But so far it has failed to pass in congress.
For more stories from KSAZ in Phoenix, Arizona go to myfoxphoenix.com.