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Rescuer of kidnapped girl comes forward as undocumented immigrant

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Heroes thwart kidnapping of girl
  • Antonio Diaz Chacon, 23, has been living in the United States for four years
  • He is an undocumented immigrant, his wife says
  • Diaz is credited with rescuing a 6-year-old girl this week from a kidnapper
  • He says he felt compelled to tell the truth about his immigration status
  • New Mexico
  • Kidnapping

(CNN) -- A man credited with rescuing a 6-year-old girl from an alleged kidnapper came forward Friday to say he is an undocumented immigrant.

Antonio Diaz Chacon, 23, is originally from Chihuahua, Mexico, and has been living illegally in the United States for four years, according to his wife, Martha, who is a U.S. citizen.

Martha Diaz, interpreting for her husband, said the couple are afraid of the consequences of coming forward with his immigration status, but "we know that if God put us there at the exact time to be able to save the little girl -- we know that he won't leave us by ourselves."

The kidnapping attempt occurred Monday night in southwest Albuquerque when the girl went to a neighbor's house to pick up a package of tostadas. After witnessing the attempted abduction, Diaz got in his truck and chased the van the kidnapper was driving.

Diaz chased the van for several miles before it crashed into a light pole, allowing him to catch up and rescue the girl, police said. He was hailed a hero.

Diaz says he was compelled to reveal his immigration status after facing questions from the media.

Martha Diaz said the couple had planned to apply for legal residency, but were told they would need an immigration lawyer.

"We put it off because we knew it would be a lot of money," she said, adding that mortgage payments and medical bills took priority.

Diaz said Wednesday that he's no hero.

His wife told CNN, "He says everybody is calling him a hero, but he feels he is just a normal person who did something for that little girl that anybody could or should have done."

Phillip Garcia, 29, has been charged with kidnapping and child abuse in the abduction attempt, according to police.