HARLINGEN, TEX., FEB. 15 -- Great-grandmother Clara Escobedo de Martinez has won the little green card declaring her a permanent U.S. resident.
Escobedo, at 98 the oldest person to apply for amnesty under the new federal immigration program, had confounded government computers that had not been programmed to process an alien born in 1889.
In a ceremony that drew about 50 persons -- including relatives and the regional Immigration and Naturalization Service commissioner -- she received her permanent resident card and an application for citizenship last Tuesday, more than 60 years after she came to the United States.
"I feel very content and thank all of the people who have gone to this trouble without me deserving it, and I hope the Lord multiplies all of your blessings in all aspects," Escobedo said in Spanish.
She beamed demurely at the applauding crowd and at a cake proclaiming "Congratulations, Clara" in Spanish, and she smiled happily when INS Regional Commissioner Stephen Martin gave her a Valentine's Day card.
Escobedo has said she plans to apply for citizenship and has agreed to appear in a series of television commercials produced by the INS to promote its legalization program. Martin said Escobedo is eligible for citizenship because of the years she lived legally in the United States before losing legal status and later returning as an illegal alien.