AN IRISH immigrant, who spent most of her 90 years in the United States undocumented, has died, just weeks before she was due to be made a US citizen.
Josephine Stout, brought to the US as a baby, only discovered she was regarded as an illegal immigrant when applying for public assistance and asked to prove her citizenship, or legal residency.
She died earlier this week after a short illness but before immigration officials finished fast-tracking her application for citizenship.
Josephine was due to be named a citizen in a ceremony in Chicago in about a month, shortly after her 91st birthday.
Despite knowing she arrived in the country in the 1920s, Josephine had no documents to back up her claim she was in the US legally when she applied for aid in 1999.
Josephine, then a widow and at the time caring for the seven children of her murdered daughter, was denied assistance and was forced in her 70s to do odd jobs to support them, including collecting cans.
Her son, Thomas, was stabbed to death along with his girlfriend in 1985.
After being denied assistance from the state, years passed and it was only in 2008 when a Chicago Irish immigrant support group became involved that a real effort was made to find the documents needed, her birth certificate – which revealed she was born in a poorhouse in Limerick in March 1922 – and the ship's manifest, to show she did, in fact, enter the country legally.
Josephine was given her green card in September 2011, backdated to 1923. She had earlier applied for and received an Irish passport.