President's signature wonderful Christmas present for Japanese wife of fallen MarineBy Travis J. Tritten
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The bureaucratic struggle is over for the Japanese wife of a fallen Okinawa Marine who wants to raise the couple’s son in the United States.
President Barack Obama signed a special exception to U.S. law Wednesday allowing Hotaru Ferschke, 26, and her 22-month-old son, Mikey, to emigrate from Japan after husband and father Sgt. Michael Ferschke was killed in Iraq in 2008.
For the past two years, Ferschke has been attempting to fulfill her late husband’s request to raise their son in the U.S. with his parents in Tennessee.
But the Department of Homeland Security refused to recognize the couple’s proxy marriage, which was performed over the telephone from Okinawa and Iraq and never consummated because Michael Ferschke was killed shortly after while doing door-to-door searches near Baghdad.
A special act of Congress and the president’s signature Wednesday granted Hotaru Ferschke permanent residency in the U.S. and finally brought the long emotional battle to a close.
“What a beautiful Christmas present,” said Ferschke’s mother, Robin, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel in Tennessee. “The right thing has been done.”
Since Michael Ferschke’s death, his mother has been only able to have temporary visits with her grandson, Mikey, who is speaking English and Japanese words, according to Robin Ferschke.
Hotaru and Mikey lived with her husband’s family in Maryville, Tenn., a small town in the Great Smoky Mountains about 20 miles south of Knoxville in 2009, but were forced to return to her home on Okinawa when her visa expired.
Mikey is a U.S. citizen because his father was a citizen.