Tired of my stubborn persistence with all of these inquiries and letters? So was I, but I continued to search for every possible way to get Emelda here sooner than later. Here's more...

6-18-97

I faxed the following letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein's Washington, DC office and mailed copies of it to her Los Angeles and San Francisco offices as well.

6-18-97

Dear Senator Feinstein,

I sent you an e-mail message asking for your help over a month ago. Since I haven't received a response yet, I have chosen to write this letter to you. I will try to be brief (as I know how busy you are). I recently married a woman who is a citizen of The Philippines. Much to my dismay, I discovered that I will have to wait several months to bring her here to America. I am so miserable without my sweet Emelda. I love her so much! I need to be with her. Can you please help me? I would be forever in your debt.

To give you a little background information, I filed the INS forms by mail (as required) at the end of April. The $80.00 check for the processing fee cleared my bank on May eighth, but I have not heard anything since then. The form I filed is called the Immigrant Petition for Alien Relative (I-130). My wife's maiden name was Emelda Garcines.

Please contact me soon! I'm counting on you! My local Congressperson hasn't responded either. Take care!

Sincerely yours,

(signed)

Jeff Hollis

I called Nels Henderson at Capps' office, but he was not scheduled to be in the office until June 19th. I also sent a similar letter (requesting help) to Vice President Al Gore's wife Tipper.

6-19-97

I mailed a virtual copy of the Feinstein ‘why-haven’t-you-responded’ letter to Representative Xavier Becerra. Also, I received the following letter from Senator Boxer's office (actually a copy of a letter that her office sent to an INS representative):

Barbara Boxer
California

United States Senate

Hart Senate Office Building
Suite 112
Washington, DC 20510-0505
(202) 224-3553
senator@boxer.senate.gov
http://www.senate.gov/~boxer

June 17, 1997

Ms. Deb Dyson
Congressional Liaison Specialist
INS
Western Service Center
P.O. Box 30111
Laguna Niguel, CA 92607-0111

Dear Ms. Dyson:

Enclosed please find a copy of the correspondence we received from Jeff Hollis, regarding the immigrant visa petition filed on behalf of his wife, Emelda Garcines. It is my understanding that Mr. Hollis submitted the application on April 29, 1997, and that his check was cashed on May 8, 1997.

I am forwarding this material for your review and consideration. Any information you can provide in response to Jeff Hollis's concerns will be most appreciated. Please reply to Senator Boxer's San Francisco office, attention: Edith Franco.

Thank you for your attention to this request.

Sincerely,

(signed as follows:
John Hess for BR)
Beatriz Rivas Rogalski
Deputy Chief of Staff

cc: Jeff Hollis

6-20-97

I received a phone message from Nels Henderson at Representative Capps' office requesting that I send him photocopies of the forms I filed with the INS and I sent the following handwritten letter to Edith Franco of Senator Boxer's office.

6-20-97

Dear Edith,

This is just a short note to express my gratitude for your recent attention to my wife Emelda's immigration situation. Your quick action was a pleasant surprise. The efficient manner in which you began to address my concerns was impressive in its efficiency.

I requested help from my district's representative (Xavier Becerra) and Senator Feinstein over five weeks ago and they have yet to respond, so my appreciation is even greater than it might've been had they cared about me the way you seem to. This is the first time I've ever requested help from an elected official and I'm glad to see that Senator Boxer's office has compassion for her constituents.

I hope your initial efforts bear fruit and that Emelda will be back in my arms soon. I love her so much! Being a newlywed and being forced to be apart from my wife is difficult to handle. Your efforts to help have made it a little easier. Thanks again!

Sincerely yours,

(signed)

Jeff Hollis

6-21-97

I sent the following letter to Deb Dyson of the INS (along with a printout of "Jeff & Emelda: A Love Story" and "Marriage Can Be A Trip" from my Website).

6-21-97

Dear Ms. Dyson,

Hello! Please accept my apologies for this intrusion. I know you must be busy, so I'll keep this brief and to the point.

On June 17th, Senator Barbara Boxer's Deputy Chief of Staff Beatriz Rivas Rogalski sent you a letter asking for assistance regarding my wife Emelda's immigration situation. She also included a letter that had been forwarded to her that was written by me.

In the aforementioned letter, I expressed my concerns about being separated from my wife. I also asked them to read about our love story, which is posted on my Website. Since I know you're busy and you may not have the time to go to my Website, I have included a printout of the text contained in my Website (that pertains to Emelda and I) along with this letter. I hope you'll have a chance to peruse it at some point. If you do, you'll be able to understand how much I love my wife and how much I want her to be here with me.

I hope that there's some way you can help us be reunited quicker. Our hearts are in the hands of the INS. Neither of us will be whole again until we're back in each other's arms again. Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely yours,

(signed)

Jeff Hollis

6-22-97

I faxed the following letter to Nels Henderson at Representative Capps' office.

6-22-97

Dear Mr. Henderson,

Thank you for returning my calls on Friday. I appreciate the time you've taken to respond to my request for help.

In your phone message, you asked me to send you photocopies of the forms I sent to the INS. I feel foolish now because I didn't think to make photocopies of the forms. Obviously, I cannot send you photocopies that I do not have. I'm sorry I cannot do what you've asked of me. All I can do is give you as much information as possible.

I filed the INS forms by mail (as required) at the end of April. The $80.00 check for the processing fee cleared my bank on May eighth, but I have not heard anything since then. The form I filed is called the Immigrant Petition for Alien Relative (I-130). My wife's maiden name was Emelda Garcines.

I found out the name of The Congressional Liaison Specialist of the INS's Western Service Center. Her name is Ms. Deb Dyson and her postal address is as follows: Ms. Deb Dyson, Congressional Liaison Specialist, INS, Western Service Center, P.O. Box 30111, Laguna Niguel, CA, 92607-0111.

I hope this information helps. Feel free to contact me anytime. I'm desperate to be with Emelda again.

Sincerely yours,

(signed)

Jeff Hollis

Obviously, I learned my lesson from the above and have photocopied everything since!

6-23-97

I sent the following e-mail to President Fidel V. Ramos of The Philippines (again, I knew it would probably be futile, but I needed to at least try):

Date: Mon, Jun 23, 1997 8:11 PM PDT
From: Filmbuff95
Subj: Please Help Us, Mr. President
To: president@philippines.gov.ph
cc: Filmbuff95

Dear President Ramos,

Greetings from Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.! My wife Emelda and I send you our warmest regards.

My name is Jeff Hollis. I recently had the pleasure of visiting your wonderful country (my second visit to the Philippines). I really miss the upbeat spirit that exists in The Philippines. America is a more cynical and less vibrant place than your country in many ways.

I am writing to you because I desperately need your help. I will try to keep this letter short (because I know how busy you are). I recently married a Philippine citizen named Emelda Garcines (of Ozamiz City). Much to my dismay, I discovered that it will take several months for Emelda to be allowed to come to America.

Well, as a married man yourself, I'm sure you can imagine how painful it is for me (a newlywed) to be separated from my beloved Emelda. I miss her so much! I am miserable without her. I have been told that it is almost impossible for her to come to America in less that 6 months to a year and I can't bear to be apart from her for such a long time.

I need to be with my wife. Is there any way that you can help us be reunited? I would appreciate any assistance you can offer to us. I am a great admirer of yours (as is my wife) and we're really hoping that you'll be able to assist us in some way. We need to be together. Please help us.

If you'd like to, you can go to my Website and learn all about me and Emelda. The URL is http://www.geocities.com/~hollismeister.

Please respond, Mr. President. We're counting on you!

Maraming salamat po! Ingat!
--Jeff Hollis--
Filmbuff95@aol.com

I spoke to Emelda on the phone. She told me that her barangay captain offered to help us with our immigration situation. According to her, he said that he could get the proper forms together and would try to get Vice President (of the Philippines) Joseph Estrada to sign the forms when Estrada would visit Ozamiz City (for the 'Miss Ozamiz' contest) in July. I asked Emelda to get more specific information from her barangay Captain and told her that I would call her back in two days to hear what she found out.

6-24-97

I received the following automatic computer response from President Ramos.

Subj: Re: Please Help Us, Mr. President
Date: Tue, Jun 24, 1997 12:02 AM PDT
From: president@philippines.gov.ph
X-From: president@philippines.gov.ph (Correspondence)
To: Filmbuff95@aol.com

On behalf of His Excellency, President Fidel V. Ramos, we thank you for writing the President via electronic mail.

As far as the President's schedule will allow, President Ramos will be reading and responding to your letter/message. However, due to the increasing number of e-mail writers to the President, he may not able to read your letter immediately. Rest assured nevertheless that each and every letter is carefully read and attended to by the Presidential Correspondence Staff and later reviewed by the President himself.

The President believes that the addition of this exciting new medium to the traditional forms of communication provides all of us with yet another venue for sharing common concerns and forging our mutual dream of peace and human progress. Through his official e-mail address, the President hopes to strengthen even more the partnership between people and government in the pursuit of our national vision of "Philippines 2000 !!!".

In the meantime, please accept the President's greetings along with his fervent hopes for your continuing support and involvement.

MABUHAY!

From:
Correspondence Office
Malacanang, Manila
#########################################
URL: http://www.philippines.gov.ph
E-mail: president@philippines.gov.ph
Note: This is an automated reply

6-28-97

I received the following letter from Representative Capps.

Walter Capps

Congress of the United States

House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20515-0522

June 27, 1997

Dear Mr. Hollis:

Thank you for your letter regarding your efforts to obtain permanent residence for your wife Emelda. I was touched by your story and appreciate your confidence in me to assist you.

I checked with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and they show receipt of your application and that it is being reviewed by an INS officer. The average time for processing the application is 90 days. As you applied in the early part of May, you should be receiving a notice of approval in July if all of the paperwork was in order. The file is then sent to the National Visa Center (NVC) for processing and Emelda will be given an alien registration number. It is then sent to the American Consulate in the Philippines where she will be given an exit interview when her priority date comes up.

You will be given a priority date with the notice of approval from the INS. This date indicates a chronological order for immigrant visas that is mandated by federal law. You can find out what priority date is currently being processed by visiting the Department of State web site at http://travel.state.gov, navigate to the "Visa Bulletin" part of the site and comparing her date to that listed on the first row, under the heading "Philippines". Every month, this site is updated with current information and you will be able to see how many months it will be until she is given her visa.

As she is your wife, you automatically are given the highest priority in this process and will obtain a visa sooner than most applicants. As a Congressman, however, I can not expedite her application, as federal law is quite clear as to the steps that are to be taken for permanent residence. Where I can help you is to give you status checks along the way. Once you have received your approval notice, I can make sure that the National Visa Center has received it as well. A few weeks later, I can ensure that the NVC has sent the information to the consulate in the Philippines.

I hope that this information is useful to you and I am sorry that I can not expedite the process. If you have any questions, please contact Mr. Nels Henderson at my Santa Barbara District Office.

Sincerely,

(signed)

Walter Capps
Member of Congress

7-2-97

I received a phone message from Eva Garcia of Representative Xavier Becerra's office. I returned the call, leaving a phone message for her. I also received the following letter from Senator John McCain of Arizona.

John McCain

United States Senate

June 25, 1997

Dear Jeff:

Thank you for contacting me regarding your concerns. I would very much like to be of assistance.

However, it is the customary practice of the U.S. Senate to allow a constituent's own Senator to assist him. Therefore, I have forwarded your correspondence to Senator Boxer and I am sure she will provide you with any appropriate assistance needed.

Again, Jeff, thank you for contacting me. I hope your situation can be favorably resolved.

Sincerely,

(signed)

John McCain
United States Senator

7-2-97

I received the following letter from Tipper Gore's Chief of Staff.

(Presidential seal here)

OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT

WASHINGTON

June 24, 1997

Dear Mr. Hollis:

On behalf of Mrs. Gore, I want to thank you for taking the time to write regarding the immigration of your wife.

Unfortunately, it would not be appropriate for her, as wife of the Vice President, to intervene in a matter which solely is under the jurisdiction of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. I suggest you continue your efforts by contacting State and local officials involved in this issue.

Your understanding is greatly appreciated. Thank your for writing. I hope the situation with your wife is resolved satisfactorily.

Sincerely,

(signed)

Susan Liss
Chief of Staff
for Mrs. Gore

7-5-97

I received the following letter from Barbara Boxer herself.

Barbara Boxer

California

United States Senate

Hart Senate Office Building
Suite 112
Washington, DC 20510-0505
(202) 224-3553
senator@boxer.senate.gov
http://www.senate.gov/~boxer

July 2, 1997

Dear Mr. Hollis:

Thank you for your kind words. I am very happy to learn that Edith Franco has been of assistance to you regarding your wife's immigration case.

It gives me great pleasure to know that I am able to solve a variety of problems for my constituents with the assistance of an extremely caring staff.

Thank you for writing.

Sincerely,

(signed)

Barbara Boxer
United States Senator

7-7-97

I left another phone message with Eva Garcia at Representative Becerra's office.

7-8-97

I faxed the following letter to Senator Coseteng of the Philippines. (The Philippines is in a different time zone, hence the contradictory date). This was not a specific request for help, but was an attempt to foster amity with an influential politician (one who speaks out against the type of relationship Emelda and I have entered into).

7-9-97

To: Anna Dominique Marquez-Lim Coseteng
Sunset View Condominiums, Rm. 410
Roxas Blvd.
Pasay City
PHILIPPINES

From: Jeffrey Lee Hollis
(address deleted for this Website)

Dear Senator Coseteng,

Greetings from America! I send my warmest regards to you and your family! Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Jeff Hollis. I am a 29-year-old native-born American with a great interest in your country. I have visited The Philippines twice and I have found the people of your country to be among the finest that I've ever encountered.

I am a great admirer of yours. I admire your stand against government corruption, your devotion to women's rights and your concern for the economy of The Philippines and the financial state of its people. You seem to be a person who fights for what she believes in and that is a quality that I appreciate very much. In my studies of The Philippines, I have grown to admire Jose Rizal. He stood up for what he believed in and paid the ultimate price. You share some of his great qualities. I think you would be a great President in 1998.

I am writing to you because I am concerned about some things that you said on the television program "60 Minutes." I hope that you will not have a poor opinion of me for expressing my concerns to you. I also hope that you won't look down on me because of the fact that I recently married a woman in The Philippines. I am a good man who respects women very much and I am devoted to my wife's happiness.

On "60 Minutes," you said, "I think it's basically buying and selling and the commodity is women." I want you to know that I do not think of my wonderful wife as a product for export. I think of her as a great human being whom I wish to devote my life to. There is not enough money in the world to buy love and happiness. I truly love my wife and she loves me.

"60 Minutes" quoted you as saying, "these marriages are unequal equations." I want you to know that I feel that a marriage can only work if the two partners treat each other as equals. I always treat Emelda with great respect and I strive to be more like her. I believe that she is a better person than I am. She is more kind and thoughtful than I am and she has many qualities that I need to improve upon in my own life. I strive to be more like Emelda every day.

On "60 Minutes," you also said, "...or perhaps he's looking for somebody he could treat in a way that he could not treat somebody of his own race or somebody of his own level, but there must be something wrong with these men." This quote saddens me greatly. It saddens me because I know that there are so many men who marry women in The Philippines and mistreat those women. I know that many bad men bring Filipinas to America and abuse them. I know that some men are evil and have social dysfunctions. Your statement also saddens me because I am not one of those men and I don't want you to think of me in this way. I do not wish to mistreat Emelda. I wish to dedicate my life to her happiness. Her happiness is more important to me than my own happiness. My career used to be the most important thing in my life. Now, Emelda is my number one priority.

I am writing to you because I want you to know that there are good men like me who end up finding love in The Philippines. I never expected to find love through the mail. I tried to deny my feelings as they grew for Emelda, but I couldn't. I have dated many women here in America, but they don't have the family values that Filipinos cherish. Women here are simply not of the exceptional caliber of women in your country. I believe that you are an honorable, high-caliber woman worthy of much respect. As I said, I have followed your career and I admire you a lot. I just want you to know that not all men who marry in The Philippines are evil men who as you say; have something wrong with them.

I have written extensively about my love story with Emelda and I have posted our story on my Website. If you'd like to read it, you can go to http://www.geocities.com/~hollismeister and see for yourself that I am an honorable man who is devoted to his wife. I know that you probably won't have time to do this, but I just wanted to give you the opportunity to see a positive example of this type of situation.

In conclusion, I just want you to know that I appreciate your concern for Filipinas who marry men in other countries and I support your efforts to protect those women. If there is any way I can be of assistance in your efforts, please don't hesitate to contact me. Perhaps I could shed some light on this issue from a different perspective than what you're used to. I want to protect these women too. I just don't want good people to be denied true love.

As I wait for Emelda to be able to join me here in America, I thank God that there are great people like you to look out for people like my wife. The Philippines is lucky to have you as one of its Senators. I wish that the Senators in the U.S. Senate were all as honorable and as dedicated to their constituents as you are.

Maraming salamat for your time. Pagpalain ka nawa ng Maykapal!

Sincerely yours,

(signed)

Jeffrey Lee Hollis

7-9-97

I received a phone message from Eva Garcia requesting Emelda's W.A.C. number. I returned her call, leaving a message letting her know that I had not received a W.A.C. number (a confirmation number from the INS letting me know that they have received my paperwork). She called back and left another message asking me to call her back. When I did, I was able to speak to her personally. At first, she said that there was nothing she could do. Knowing that there was plenty that she could do (as evidenced by the actions of Representative Capps and Senator Boxer), I remained silent. She then said that she would call the INS and see what she could find out (using the information I could provide her). She said that she would try to call me back on the following day. She also informed me that my original message never reached Representative Becerra's office. Since I had received such professional assistance from Senator Boxer’s office, the service (or rather, the lack of service) from Becerra’s was rather disconcerting. I began formulating a plan to run against this jerk in the next election.

7-10-97

After two and a half weeks of it being disconnected, Emelda's phone was back in order today. I spoke to her regarding her barangay Captain’s offer to help us. She said that she had given him a copy of our marriage certificate and that he would try to speak to The Vice President of the Philippines when he's in Ozamiz over the weekend. I asked Emelda to speak to her barangay Captain on Monday and told her that I would call her on Tuesday (her time zone).

7-12-97

I received the following notice from the INS.

(Front:)

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
U.S. Department of Justice
Immigration and Naturalization Service Notice of Action
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
RECEIPT NUMBER - CASE TYPE

WAC-97-147-50129 - I130 IMMIGRANT PETITION FOR RELATIVE, FIANCE (E), OR ORPHAN
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
RECEIPT DATE - PRIORITY DATE - PETITIONER

May 5, 1997 - April 30, 1997 - HOLLIS, JEFFREY L.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
NOTICE DATE - PAGE - BENEFICIARY

July 9, 1997 - 1 of 1 - GARCINES, EMELDA B.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

JEFFREY L. HOLLIS - Notice Type: Approval Notice
(address deleted for this Website) - Section: Husband or wife of U.S.
LOS ANGELES, CA 90020 - Citizen, 201(b) INA
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The above petition has been approved. We have sent the original visa petition to the Department of State National Visa Center (NVC), 32 Rochester Avenue, Portsmouth, NH 03801-2909. NVC processes all approved immigrant visa petitions that need consular action. It also determines which consular post is the appropriate consulate to complete visa processing. NVC will then forward the approved petition to that consulate.

This completes all INS action on this petition. If you have any questions about visa issuance, please contact the NVC directly. The telephone number to NVC is (603) 334-0700.

The NVC will contact the person for whom you are petitioning concerning further immigrant visa processing steps.

THIS FORM IS NOT A VISA NOR MAY IT BE USED IN PLACE OF A VISA.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Please see the additional information on the back. You will be notified separately about any other cases you filed.

IMMIGRATION & NATURALIZATION SERVICE
CALIFORNIA SERVICE CENTER
P.O. BOX 30111
LAGUNA NIGUEL, CA 92607-0111
Customer Service Telephone: (714) 360-2769
(Barcode here)
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Form I 797 (Rev. 09/07/93) N

(Back:)

• Please save this notice for your records. Please enclose a copy if you have to write us or a U.S. Consulate about this case, or if you file another application based on this decision.

• You will be notified separately about any other applications or petitions you have filed.

_____________________________

Additional Information

GENERAL.

The filing of an application or petition does not in itself allow a person to enter the United States and does not confer any other right or benefit.

INQUIRIES.
You should contact the office listed on the reverse of this notice if you have any questions about the notice, or questions about the status of your application or petition. We recommend you call. However, if you write us, please enclose a copy of this notice with your letter.

APPROVAL OF NONIMMIGRANT PETITION.
Approval of a nonimmigrant petition means that the person for whom it was filed has been found eligible for the requested classification. If this notice indicated we are notifying a U.S. consulate about the approval for the purpose of visa issuance, and you or the person you filed for have questions about visa issuance, please contact the appropriate U.S. Consulate directly.

APPROVAL OF AN IMMIGRANT PETITION.
Approval of an immigrant petition does not convey any right or status. The approved petition simply establishes a basis upon which the person you filed for can apply for an immigrant or fiance(e) visa or for adjustment of status.

A person is not guaranteed issuance of a visa or a grant of adjustment simply because this petition is approved. Those processes look at additional criteria

If this notice indicates we have approved the immigrant petition you filed, and have forwarded it to the Department of State Immigrant Visa Processing Center, that office will contact the person you filed the petition for directly with information about visa issuance.

In addition to the information on the reverse of this notice, the instructions for the petition you filed provide additional information about processing after approval of the petition.

For more information about whether a person who is already in the U.S. can apply for adjustment of status, please see Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

_____________________________

This was the first official step in the long immigration process. I was glad that it was over, but I was saddened that it was only the first step. It had been three months and seven days since our wedding. They were the loneliest three days and seven months of my life.