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Oct 24, 2012 8:13 PM

Tucson 'Dreamer' granted deferred action, denied driver's license

TUCSON - Carlos Martinez holds a bachelor's degree in computer engineering and a master's degree in software engineering, but the 30-year-old can't legally drive in the state of Arizona.

On September 14, Martinez was granted deferred action status by the federal government. "It's one of the days I'll never forget," he said. "So much struggle, frustration all these years that it's a day I will not forget."

Martinez was brought to the US from Mexico at the age of nine. He attended schools in Tucson and graduated from Cholla High School in 2009. Martinez and his brother both enrolled at the University of Arizona and both earned degrees in engineering. But Carlos hasn't been able to use his degree in the engineering field because of his immigration status. "It's a tough battle I've had but it feels good that I'm finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel," he said.

According to Martinez, applying for deferred action status was a 176-page effort. He said he was among the first 29 to achieve the status. An estimated 80,000 young people applied. He has a message for students like him: "I want other Dreamers to go out there and be the change you want to see in the world. Set the example and hopefully we get the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform."

Martinez is considered a Dreamer, children brought to the US by their parents. In Arizona, even if Dreamers are granted deferred action, they cannot hold a valid Arizona's driver's license, the executive order was issued by Governor Jan Brewer. But that won't stop Martinez from one day driving to an engineering job. "I'll take the city bus, I'll walk to work," he said. "That's healthy right? Walking? So I'll take it that way."

On Thursday, Martinez will interview for an engineering job at IBM in Tucson. He says he can't wait because he has yet another dream to achieve, to "get my engineering job and pay all the bills in the house and retire my parents," he said. "That was one of my goals ever since I was a little kid, to retire my parents."

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