Crossville cancer patient had to cancel citizenship ceremony, officials later joined him at clinic for swearing-in

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Luis Zavala was sworn in Wednesday at a clinic in Birmingham. Courtesy: Heather Fann

BIRMINGHAM. Ala. — Wednesday saw a dream come true for a Crossville man, though it came at an especially difficult point in his life.

Luis Zavala and his family are originally from Honduras. They have lived in the United States for over 14 years. Family friend, Heather Fann, said Luis applied to become a citizen twice, but was denied both times.

Luis was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year. Since his diagnosis, Luis has undergone several surgeries, multiple rounds of radiation and chemotherapy, Fann told WHNT News 19. Due to his prognosis, his family hired a lawyer to help speed up his third attempt to gain citizenship, Fann said.

Earlier this week, the Zavalas received an early Christmas present and learned that Luis’ citizenship application was approved, Fann said. After learning Luis was ailing, U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Service drove seven hours to conduct the final citizenship interview at his family’s home.

The next day they planned to administer the citizenship oath, unfortunately, Luis had a doctor’s appointment scheduled in Birmingham.

After the initial plan didn’t work out, the U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services officials decided to surprise Luis and his family, administering the Oath of Citizenship inside the medical clinic’s lobby.

Updated at 1:35 p.m., Dec. 19, to include details of final interview, swearing-in

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