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Military Spouse Amendment to Immigration Law Under Consideration

The Japanese widow of an American serviceman killed in Iraq hopes to gain citizenship from a new law that is making its way through Congress. The woman met a U.S. Marine when he was stationed in Okinawa. The Marine was deployed to duty in Iraq. The couple was expecting a child and married over the telephone in July 2008.

Roughly a month after the ceremony, the 22-year-ol Marine was killed north of Baghdad while conducting door to door searches. During the immigration process, Homeland Security denied the widow of the U.S. Marine in her effort to immigrate into the U.S. to raise the couple's son.

The Department of Homeland Security oversees the immigration process. The agency denied the widow's paperwork as the marriage had not been consummated.

A member of the U.S. House of Representatives introduced the Marine Sergeant Michael H. Ferschke, Jr. Memorial Act to recognize proxy marriages involving military service members. The bill passed the House earlier this week.

The bill carves out an exception to the consummation requirement for foreign nationals married to active military service members, allowing the spouse of the service member to qualify for U.S. residency. Representative John J. Duncan, the bill's sponsor said on the House floor before the measure passed the House, "Any person looking at this case can see that this loophole is tragic and deserves to be closed."

It is unclear whether the House version will make it to the Senate. Senators Lamar Alexander and Jim Webb reportedly are working on a similar measure in the Senate.

Source: Stars and Stripes, "Immigration law aimed at troops' foreign spouses passes House," 17 Nov 2010

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