It's a dream come true

Amid all the heated debate about immigration and amnesty for the millions of immigrants who are in the US illegally, José Temprana joined 150 or so other people before a magistrate in Miami one day late last week, put his right hand over his heart, and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. Then he and some friends retired to the Hispanic Community Center for a modest celebration on the occasion of his becoming a naturalized American citizen. "Very happy," he replied when reporters asked for his reaction. "It was worth the wait." Temprana, you see, sought citizenship in the traditional fashion after arriving in south Florida in 1995 from Cuba, where he'd been in prison or under house arrest for 30 years for smuggling in weapons to be used in an insurrection against communist leader Fidel Castro. But two previous attempts ended in failure because he lacked necessary documents or couldn't answer questions to an interviewer's satisfaction. At the ceremony, he swore to bear arms to help defend his new country if called upon to do so. But it's not likely that day will arrive in his case. Although he is nicknamed El Niño (the Boy) for what neighbors describe as "a great spirit" and vitality, he'll be 106 on his next birthday. He said he became an admirer of the US because of the Spanish-American War and "I have wanted [this] since I was 8 or 10."

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