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Public Statements

For the Relief of Hotaru Nakama Ferschke

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. CHU. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

S. 1774 is an immigration relief bill for Hotaru Nakama Ferschke. By now the story of Mrs. Ferschke and her late husband, Marine Sergeant Michael H. Ferschke, Jr., should be well known to Members of the House.

The couple met in March 2007 when Sergeant Ferschke was stationed at Camp Schwab in Okinawa, Japan. They dated for more than 1 year before Sergeant Ferschke was deployed to Iraq. Shortly before his departure, they learned that they were going to have a baby. They spoke about getting married, moving back to the United States, and raising a family together.

Two months after arriving in Iraq, they were married through a ceremony conducted over the telephone. But just 1 month later, Sergeant Ferschke tragically lost his life in combat.

The United States military recognizes the couple's marriage for purposes of providing Mrs. Ferschke with a death gratuity. But our immigration laws recognize only proxy marriages that have been consummated, something this couple was never able to do following the marriage. As a result, Mrs. Ferschke has been unable to move to the United States on an immigrant visa, and her hopes of raising their son with the love and support of Sergeant Ferschke's family have been thwarted.

Last month, the House passed H.R. 6397, the Marine Sergeant Michael H. Ferschke, Jr. Memorial Act. The purpose of that bill was to fix Mrs. Ferschke's situation and to ensure that no other family is left in a similar situation. Because that bill remains stuck in the Senate, a relief bill for Mrs. Ferschke is the only way to right this wrong.

I commend Senators WEBB, ALEXANDER, CORKER, and UDALL for introducing this bill in the Senate, and Representative JOHN DUNCAN for his work on a companion bill in the House. I would also recognize Judiciary Committee Chairman JOHN CONYERS, Immigration Subcommittee Chairwoman ZOE LOFGREN, and Judiciary Committee Ranking Member LAMAR SMITH for helping to move this bill to the floor.

I urge my colleagues to support this important legislation.


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