SAN DIEGO (AP) — A decorated former U.S. Army paratrooper whose work on behalf of deported veterans has brought widespread attention to his cause has become a U.S. citizen.

Hector Barajas beamed after taking his citizenship oath Friday at a government office in San Diego in full military uniform.

READ MORE: KPIX Reporters Remember Slain Security Guard Kevin Nishita; 'Just the Kindest Man'

He choked up as he told reporters he was living the American Dream a second time.

He was deported in 2010 to Mexico, where he founded a shelter for deported veterans.

READ MORE: UPDATE: News Crew Security Guard Shot in Oakland Dies From Injuries; Photo of Suspect Vehicle Released

Barajas got his break last year when California Gov. Jerry Brown pardoned a 2002 conviction for shooting at an occupied vehicle. Brown cited Barajas’ military service and advocacy work.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services told him in March that he was granted citizenship.

 

MORE NEWS: Burlingame Shoppers Show Up for Small Business Saturday

© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.