Immigration authorities yesterday apologized for rejecting the naturalization request of a Cuban native after he recently discovered that he did not have citizenship in the United States, despite having served the country in Vietnam. His Oath of Allegiance was quickly administered, finally making him a US citizen almost half a century after he came to the country as a child.
Chris Bentley, a spokesman for US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), says that immediate citizenship should have been given to 58-year-old Mario Hernandez because of his military service in Vietnam, given that veterans who serve in certain periods of conflict are not required to meet all the usual requirements in order to be naturalized.
“USCIS made a mistake in the adjudication of Mr Hernandez’s application for citizenship, and apologizes to him for any hardship this caused him and his family,” Bentley admitted in a statement. “This morning, after a thorough review of the case with Mr Hernandez, we were able to approve his naturalization application.” He said initially that Hernandez would have to wait to become a citizen until his hometown of Tallahassee’s next naturalization ceremony; however, he changed course after complaints from Hernandez’s attorney and had the veteran naturalized.
“USCIS issued a heartfelt apology, which we accepted,” Elizabeth Ricci, Hernandez’s attorney, said after the meeting with officials yesterday in Tallahassee, but noted that it was only after the media became interested in his case that USCIS suddenly became more cooperative.