PHOENIX -- Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton chose a 23-year-old undocumented immigrant to write a letter to President Barack Obama, on behalf of all "DREAMers."
Antonio Valdovinos was brought to the United States as a 2-year-old, but said he did not realize he wasn't a citizen until high school.
He told 3TV that Stanton's staff called Monday night, and helped craft the letter. In it, he thanked Obama for creating the Deferred Action program, which grants temporary work permits to young illegal immigrants who meet certain standards.
Stanton hand-delivered the letter as soon as Obama walked off Air Force One.
Valdovinos said he told the President, for the first time in his life, he is free to live and work "out of the shadows," and without the fear of deportation.
"The point I wanted to get across to the President was total gratitude, and also an oath to service and giving back," he told 3TV.
Valdovinos said he was unable to enlist in the Marines after high school.
"They flat out told me, if I didn't have my papers to get out and that I was wasting their time," he recalled.
He went into construction because it was the only work he could find. Under Deferred Action, Valdovinos now works for political campaigns and as a community advocate and organizer.
"He thanked me for the letter. It was probably nice to get positive correspondence from Arizona," Stanton told reporters.
Roughly half a million people have applied for Deferred Action, and nearly 300,000 have been accepted.