The Obama administration's new policy allowing illegal immigrants without criminal records to remain in the country has stirred up debate, and Antonio Diaz Chacon, the country's latest illegal immigrant hero, is in the middle of it.
On Monday, Chacon, 23, jumped into his pickup truck when he saw a 6-year-old girl being abducted and chased down the alleged abductor, who crashed into a light pole and ran into the desert in Albuquerque, N.M. Chacon then rescued the child, and the suspect has since been arrested and charged with kidnapping and child abuse.
While being questioned by reporters, Chacon revealed his immigration status.
Chacon, who is originally from Chihuahua, Mexico, is married to an American and has been in the United States for four years. But he gave up attempts to obtain legal residency because, he said, the process was difficult and expensive, according to The Associated Press.
Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry declared Friday Antonio Diaz Chacon Day in the city and presented Diaz Chacon with a Spanish language plaque at an afternoon ceremony.
Chacon's wife, Martha Diaz, who is a U.S. citizen, said she and her husband are worried about the consequences of revealing his immigration status, but "he thinks thinks this happened for a reason," according to KRQE.com.
Under the new immigration policy announced by the Obama administration this week, it is possible that Chacon would not be deported.
Jennifer Allen of Border Action Network says the policy would apply to those who have been in the United States for many years and have been positive members of the community.
"The President is recognizing it simply does not make sense for this country to be removing children who have grown up and know this country better than they know any other country; or removing the spouses of active duty military, certain service men and women," Allen told ABC News affiliate KGUN-TV in Tucson, Ariz.
In a White House blog post, Cecilia Munoz, the administration's director of intergovernmental affairs, defended the new policy.
"It makes no sense to spend our enforcement resources on these low-priority cases when they could be used with more impact on others, including individuals who have been convicted of serious crimes," Munoz wrote.
"This means more immigration enforcement pressure where it counts the most, and less where it doesn't," she said. "That's the smartest way to follow the law while we stay focused on working with the Congress to fix it."
Officials noted that cases can and will be re-opened at any time if the government receives new information on criminal behavior.