Born in Limerick, Ireland, 90 years ago, Josephine Stout has been living in the United States since 1923, but has never gained U.S. citizenship. Stout was dubbed America’s oldest illegal immigrant; however, she is now expected to gain her American citizenship on the fast-track. The great-grandmother currently resides in Chicago, has no accent and has always considered herself an American.
Stout arrived on the RMS Franconia when she was 1-1/2 years old. When Stout came from the Emerald Isle, she had no birth certificate or passport and arrived with her parents and 12 siblings. However, she wasn’t concerned with the issue until she was trying to qualify for benefits as a 70-year-old
In 1999, the woman tried to receive state aid to raise her seven grandchildren, who were left orphaned after their mother was killed in a robbery. At this time, she was declared an illegal alien because she could not prove her citizenship.
Over the years, Stout struggled with gaining odd jobs to make money, as she lived through the tragedies of her husband’s death in 1996, son’s death in 1985 and another child’s death from cancer in 2009.
After a Catholic charity referred her case to the Chicago Irish Immigrant Support Centre, the Irish Consulate was contacted, and her birth certificate was unearthed. Once Stout received this document, she was able to gain her Irish passport and then her American green card in September 2011 – it was backdated for November 1, 1923.
In a few months, Stout will be gain legal U.S citizenship, which will make her entitled to her pension and other benefits.