Married by Phone: Marine Widow to Get Legal Status After Congress Acts

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They have granted citizenship to illegal immigrants, waived personal debts owed to the government and bestowed federal health care and retirement benefits to employees or spouses who might not otherwise have qualified. But Congress has not passed a single private law since 2006, when only one similar bill was approved.

Hotaru and 'Mikey' Ferschke

"This is something that everyone has wanted to support all through this process, and it is a great moment for this family," Rep. John Duncan, R-Tenn., who sponsored the bill, said in a statement. "Helping people caught up in extraordinary circumstances like the Ferschke's is one of the most basic and important jobs of Congress, and I am so grateful for all the bipartisan support in the House and Senate."

Ferschke said Hotaru has been working for the Japanese government at the U.S. airbase in Okinawa and will likely reunite with the family in Tennessee soon.

"I would love it if they came back to the states," he said. "Since my son got killed and stuff, she called here and tried to do the paperwork to move. But now it could finally come true."

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