This past Wednesday, one of the oldest people to take the oath became a citizen of the United States. Joaquin Guzman, 102 years old, who first came to the U.S.as a teenager, decided to make it official in a ceremony with 7,300 others in Los Angeles.
Guzman came to the U.S. in 1928 to pick cabbage and lettuce as a migrant worker. He was 18 when he first came to the Salinas Valley Fields near San Francisco. He returned home after 10 years and married for Paz Irene Gatchalian in 1940.
Before the first of their six children were born, Guzman returned to the U.S. and bought land with his earnings. He farmed the land and brought his wife and two adult children here in 1984. They became U.S. citizens much earlier but Guzman waited for reasons that remain unclear.
Daughter-in-law Elizabeth Guzman remarked that it was sad that Paz hadn’t been able to see this day as she had waited for it for many years. She passed away at 89 in 2007. Niece Julie Guzman, who is now Guzman’s caregiver, was awestruck to see him place his hand over his heart and take the oath, recite the Pledge of Allegiance and sing the Star Spangled Banner.
According to statistics mainlined by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, only 27 people older than 100 have become citizens over the last 50 years. The oldest was a 117 year old woman in 1997.
As for Guzman, following the ceremony he remarked that he was happy.