An undocumented immigrant arrested for mounting a protest at a state legislative hearing in North Carolina has managed to avoid deportation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Thursday.

ICE exercised procedural discretion in the case of Uriel Alberto and granted him one year of legal residence in the country after an "exhaustive consideration of the case," government spokeswoman Carissa Cutrell told Efe.

Alberto, 25, had to turn himself in to ICE authorities in Charlotte on Wednesday to comply with the deportation order he had had pending since last year, but on the way to the appointment he received the good news of the order's suspension from his lawyer.

"I feel very fortunate and thankful for this opportunity, and (I feel) a little bit guilty because there are many parents who haven't had the same luck as I, and they have been deported," he emphasized to Efe.

Alberto and two other members of the NC DREAM Team, Estephania Mijangos and Cynthia Martinez, were arrested after their protest at a February 2012 legislative meeting.

The trio got up from their seats and publicly declared that they were undocumented foreigners.

The two women were immediately released on bail from the Wake County jail, but Alberto remained under arrest because of his police record, which included traffic violations and driving with a revoked license.

Alberto spent several days in jail, but he was eventually released on bail after going on hunger strike for 11 days.

On the verge of being deported and separated from his two U.S.-born children, Alberto once again resorted to a hunger strike on July 4 in front of the ICE office in Charlotte and he organized an Internet campaign to collect signatures online from people supporting his case.

"Now I'm thinking about my future, about getting a work permit to get my family ahead. I'm very grateful to the people who helped me and although I've had some problems, I will take advantage of this second chance they've given me," he said.

Brought to the United States from Mexico when he was only 7, Uriel Alberto was a track star in high school, but his undocumented status prevented him from obtaining financial aid to attend college. EFE