102-year-old Joaquin Arciago Guzman became a naturalized American citizen on Wednesday, ABC News reported. He’s one of only 27 people older than 100 to take the oath of citizenship in the past 50 years.
At a naturalization ceremony in Los Angeles, Guzman, who was born in the Philippines, got up from his wheelchair and put his hand over his heart during the Pledge of Allegiance, the Los Angeles Daily News reported. “I'm happy," he told the LA Daily News in Tagalog after the event.
“It's hard to believe that he first came to the US in 1928 and didn't become a citizen until he was 102 years old," his niece and caregiver, Julie Guzman, told the LA Daily News, also in Tagalog. "I'm happy for him, there are no words."
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Guzman first came to the US when he was 18 and earned 40 cents an hour as a farmworker in California’s Salinas Valley, the LA Daily News reported. After ten years, he returned to the Philippines. He worked in the US again in the 1940s, then spent several decades raising his six children in the Philippines, according to the LA Daily News. In 1984, Guzman, his wife, Paz, and two of their adult children moved to the US.
According to the LA Daily News:
Everyone became American citizens except Guzman, who did not submit an application for reasons still unknown to his family.
When Guzman’s green card recently came up for renewal, Guzman’s niece convinced him that obtaining citizenship would be better, ABC News reported. He was worried about passing the US history portion of the interview, but a doctor signed a waiver saying Guzman is unable to memorize information.
The oldest person to obtain US citizenship was 117 years old, according to ABC News.
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