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Duncan bill to aid family of fallen Maryville marine passes House
November 16, 2010

Congressman John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-Tenn.) continued his fight Monday to help the family of a fallen Maryville Marine bring his child and wife to the United States with passage of the Marine Sergeant Michael H. Ferschke, Jr. Memorial Act

The bill (H.R. 6397) amends federal immigration law to allow a couple to marry when not in the physical presence of each other if one of the persons is deployed in the armed forces.

The measure stems from the August 10, 2008, death of Sgt. Michael Ferschke (USMC) of Maryville, who married Ms. Hota Ferschke of Japan by proxy while stationed in Iraq. The couple met while he was stationed in Japan, and she was expecting his child at the time of the marriage.

Tragically, one month after the ceremony, Michael was killed in action. Hota later gave birth to Michael III (Mikey), who was granted U.S. citizenship. The couple had hoped to raise Mikey in Tennessee, but a decades-old immigration law did not recognize their marriage because it was never consummated after the ceremony.

Rep. Duncan's bill would allow Hota to seek U.S. residency and raise Mikey in Tennessee with Michael's family as the couple had planned.

"Through this entire process, I have been encouraged and moved by the strength and determination of Michael's family. They faced an unimaginable loss and somehow also found the strength to take on this battle," Duncan said.

"Any person looking at this case can see that this loophole is tragic and deserves to be closed. I am so proud of my colleagues in the House of Representatives on both sides of the aisle for coming together to help this family."

Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Jim Webb (D-Va.) are working to pass similar legislation in the United States Senate.

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