S. 1774: A bill for the relief of Hotaru Nakama Ferschke

S. 1774

A bill for the relief of Hotaru Nakama Ferschke

Date
December 16, 2010 (111th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

S. 1774 is expected to be considered on the floor of the House on Wednesday, December 15, 2010, under a motion to suspend the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage.  S. 1774 was introduced by Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) on October 13, 2009, and was approved in the Senate by unanimous consent on December 3, 2010.

Bill Summary

S. 1774 would make Hotaru Nakama Ferschke eligible for the issuance of an immigrant visa or for adjustment of status to an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence.  She would be required to file her application, with any applicable fees, within two years of enactment.  If an immigrant or permanent visa is issued, the bill would require the Secretary of State to direct officials to reduce by one, during the current or subsequent fiscal year, the total number of immigrant visas that are made available to natives of Japan.

Background

Marine Sgt. Michael Ferschke and his wife Hotaru were married July 10, 2008, by proxy since Ferschke was stationed in Iraq and Hotaru was in Japan.  At the time of their marriage, Hotaru was pregnant with their child.  Ferschke was killed in Iraq during combat one month later, on August 10.  Because Ferschke's death precluded the couple from consummating their proxy marriage (and despite Hotaru's pregnancy at the time of the ceremony), the Homeland Security Department does not recognize that they were legally married.  The Department later denied her petition to immigrate into the United States since current law requires that such marriages be physically consummated.

Hotaru gave birth to a son, Michael Ferschke III, in Okinawa, Japan, on Jan. 7, 2009.  She registered her son's birth with the U.S. State Department, securing his U.S. citizenship. Ferschke's family members in Tennessee claim that Ferschke and his wife had long intended to relocate to the United States to raise their son.  

Without legislative action, Hotaru will be forced to return to Japan at the end of her B-2 tourist visa.

Cost

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that implementing the bill would have no significant impact on the federal budget.