Another tale of how legal immigrants get screwed by the system.
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The phone call devastated Robin Ferschke, the mother of a Marine killed in Iraq.
Her Okinawan daughter-in-law, six months pregnant with the couple’s child, tearfully called earlier this week and said she was having problems getting a residency visa to live in the United States.
“She was crying so hard, it was hard to understand what she was saying,” Robin said in a telephone interview Thursday from her home in Maryville, Tenn. “She said she was told she could not get a visa because of something called the two-year rule.”
That’s the rule that requires a marriage be two years in length before a immigrant’s residency becomes permanent. Before that, they are considered conditional. I know, been there with my wife Leonita after our marriage in 1989.
But Hotaru Ferschke, 24, and Marine Sgt. Michael Ferschke Jr., 22, a radio operator with the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, had been married only one month before he was killed July 10 while conducting door-to-door searches in Iraq.
They were married by proxy while he was in Iraq, and the unusual circumstance has further complicated the issue. Although the couple had planned to eventually live in the United States, no paperwork for a residency visa had been prepared before the sergeant’s death.
Michael Ferschke was serving in Iraq. A delay in his sending in the I-130 petition for his wife is understandable.
Immigrant relatives of US military personnel are supposed to be protected This could be a misunderstanding. Mrs. Ferschke has another appointment at the embassy on Thursday.
Hotaru has declined any interviews concerning the visa problem.
“This was all so unexpected, it made her very nervous,” Robin said. “She’s still grieving for Michael and worried about the baby and doesn’t want to talk to anyone.
“Michael’s unit has rallied around her and is keeping the press away while they are trying to get everything ironed out. They are protecting her, taking her to places she needs to go and collecting the right information.”
“The Marine Corps on Okinawa is working very closely with Mrs. Hota Ferschke and the U.S. Consulate in Okinawa to assist Mrs. Ferschke in the Visa application process,” 1st Lt. Judd Wilson, media relations officer for Marine Corps Bases Japan, said in an e-mail response to a Stripes query.
“Mrs. Ferschke has not been denied any visa to the United States,” he said. “This is a misunderstanding.”
Added Wilson: “Marines take care of their own, and Mrs. Ferschke and her child are a part of the Marine Corps family,”
Mrs. Ferschke is fortunate to have both her mother-in-law and the Marine Corps fighting for her and the unborn child she is carrying. Her husband gave his life for this country, in return Hotaru Ferschke should have the right to live here. Anything else is a disgrace.
Update- Here is a link to another Stars and Stripes story that tells much more about Hotaru and Michael. How they met, how Hotaru has already visited the United states etc. It is worth reading. Here’s just the closing.
She said she told the Ferschkes of her plan and they were bowled over by her decision.
“When I talked about my plan to move to his hometown to raise our son, my mother-in-law told me that it was something that they wanted me to do, but they did not ask because she wanted to respect my freedom.
“My mother, meanwhile, had mixed feelings. She suggested me to raise the baby [on Okinawa] until he finishes elementary school, but I told her that it was important for him to grow up in the same environment as his father, beginning at an early age.”
Michael Ferschke Jr. should have that opportunity.
2nd update- Here is a Youtube tribute to Michael. Pictures of him and Hotaru can be seen near the end.