Woman named ‘America’ becomes US citizen at age 99

Surrounded by family members, she smiled and said she was very happy.

By: AP | New York | Updated: November 24, 2016 9:01 am
America Maria Hernandez, 99, holds an American flag after being administered the Naturalization Oath of Allegiance, Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016 photo, in the Queens borough of New York. The Colombian immigrant, who was brought to the U.S. by one of her daughters in 1988, signed her naturalization certificate and took the oath of allegiance in her living room, surrounded by family members and TV cameras. (AP Photo/Richard Drew) America Maria Hernandez, 99, holds an American flag after being administered the Naturalization Oath of Allegiance, Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016 photo, in the Queens borough of New York.  (AP Photo)

At age 99, a woman named America has become a US citizen. America Maria Hernandez, who was born in Colombia in 1917 and was brought to the US by one of her daughters in 1988, signed her naturalization certificate and took the oath of allegiance during a ceremony yesterday in her living room.

Surrounded by family members, she smiled and said she was very happy.

“I live in New York, the capital of the world,” she said while waiving a small American flag.

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Hernandez was born in October 1917 in Cordoba, Colombia, but mostly lived in Barranquilla. She had 12 children and now has 22 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.

Hernandez’s daughter Hortensia Martinez, 69, said she brought Hernandez to the US so she could help her take care of her son. Hernandez arrived with a green card arranged by her daughter, who had married a US citizen. Instead of renewing the card, the family asked Hernandez if she wanted to become a US citizen, and she said yes.

Hernandez walks with a cane, likes to watch TV and enjoys attending activities at a local senior center at least once a week. Asked yesterday what her secret for a long life is, she responded, “Being well, with my children. They all work. They are all good.”

According to US Citizenship and Immigration Services, 730,000 people became US citizens in the government’s 2015 fiscal year. About 84,000 of those naturalizations were in the New York area.