As the months wore on, I tried to shove my emotions onto the back burner, but it was getting harder and harder. I missed her beyond what any words could express, so I just tried to keep busy.

7-14-97

I called the NVC, but they were closed for the day. I sent the following letters to the offices of Representative Capps, Senator Boxer and Representative Becerra (respectively).

7-14-97

Dear Representative Capps,

Thanks again for your recent attention to my wife's immigration situation. As you can imagine, it is a difficult time for me now (being separated from my wife by red tape). Your help makes this time easier.

On Saturday of last week, I received an approval notice from the INS. The WAC number is WAC-97-147-50129. The notice says that the case is being handed over to the National Visa Center (you mentioned the NVC in your recent letter to me). In your letter, you also wrote the following:

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 your above offer is still on. I still need your help. I have enclosed a photocopy of the notice I received from the INS. Please don't forget about me and Emelda.

Thank you for your time! Take care!

Sincerely yours,

(signed)

Jeff Hollis

7-14-97

To: Senator Barbara Boxer
c/o: Edith Franco
1700 Montgomery Street
Suite 240
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 403-0100

From: Jeff Hollis
(address deleted for this Website)

Re: My wife's immigration situation

Dear Ms. Franco,

Thanks again for your recent attention to my wife's immigration situation. As you can imagine, it is a difficult time for me now (being separated from my wife by red tape). Your help makes this time easier.

On Saturday of last week, I received an approval notice from the INS. The notice says that the case is being handed over to the National Visa Center.

This is all so new to me. Did you ever hear anything as a result of your office's INS inquiry? Please don't forget about me and Emelda. I still need your help.

Enclosed along with this letter is a photocopy of the notice I received from the INS. The WAC number (whatever that is) is as follows: WAC-97-147-50129.

Any help/information you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again! Take care!

Sincerely yours,

(signed)

Jeff Hollis

7-14-97

To: Eva Garcia
c/o: Representative Xavier Becerra
1910 Sunset Boulevard, #560
Los Angeles, CA 90026

From: Jeff Hollis
(address deleted for this Website)

Re: Immigration case of Emelda Garcines Hollis

Dear Ms. Garcia,

When I last spoke to you on the phone, you mentioned a WAC number. Well, on Saturday, I received a notice from the INS, which has the following WAC number on it: WAC-97-147-50129. Enclosed along with this letter is a photocopy of the notice I received from the INS.

This is all so new to me. Did you ever hear anything as a result of your INS inquiry? Please don't forget about me and Emelda. I still need your assistance. I'm flying blind here.

Any help/information you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again! Take care!

Sincerely yours,

(signed)

Jeff Hollis

7-18-97

Edith Franco from Senator Boxer's office called me in response to the above letter. She said that she had called the NVC and that they hadn't received the forms from the INS. She said that it usually takes two to three weeks for the INS to get the forms to the NVC. After that, she said, it takes about three or four more weeks for the forms to get to the embassy in Manila and another two or three weeks for a new package of forms to get to Emelda. Edith asked me to call her back in a few weeks to remind her to call the NVC again. I was again impressed by the quick response.

7-24-97

I received the following letter from Governor Wilson.

(Governor's Seal)

Governor Pete Wilson

July 23, 1997

Dear Mr. Hollis:

Many thanks for your letter. I am always pleased to be of whatever assistance possible in matters involving state government.

Unfortunately, the matter you describe falls under the jurisdiction of the federal government. As such, it stands outside of my authority as Governor.

In order to be of some assistance, however, I am forwarding your correspondence to United States Senator Dianne Feinstein. I am confident that she, as an elected federal official, will be able to assist you. If you wish to contact Senator Feinstein directly, her address is:

The Honorable Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator
Washington, D.C. 20510

Again, I appreciate hearing from you.

Sincerely

(signed)

PETE WILSON

cc: The honorable Dianne Feinstein -- with incoming

7-29-97

I called the National Visa Center and spoke to a lady named Brenda. She told me that Emelda's application had been received from the INS on July 21st. She then asked me several questions about our case and told me that no one had begun investigating our case yet. She then told me that she would 'follow up on our case and make an inquiry.' She said that it usually takes four to six weeks for the NVC to get the forms to the embassy in Manila. I asked if our case could be handled out of the Cebu consulate. She said that the consulate would have to request that the forms be sent there for this to happen and that it was unlikely that they would do so.

8-5-97

I received the following letter from Senator Feinstein. It angered me greatly for two reasons: #1 - her office only responded to me after Governor Wilson’s office sent her a letter and #2 – the first paragraph shows that they did not even pay attention to what Wilson’s people sent them.

Dianne Feinstein
California

United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510-0504

August 4, 1997

Dear Mr. Hollis:

Thank you for sending me a copy of your recent letter to the Department of State regarding the immigrant petition filed for your wife. I appreciate your keeping me advised.

Because of the huge volume of mail my office receives, we do not take specific action on requests unless someone writes directly to me. Since you copied me on your correspondence, we will keep your information on file in the event you need our help later.

If you would like me to act on your behalf, please write directly to my San Francisco office and outline specifically how we could help you.

Again, thanks for writing and for keeping me informed.

With warmest personal regards.

Sincerely yours,

(signed)

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

8-7-97

A packet of forms was sent to Emelda by the National Visa Center (having been approved on 8-4-97).

8-11-97

Emelda took a seven-hour bus ride to Cagayan De Oro, applied for her National Bureau of Investigation Clearance and then took a seven-hour bus ride back to Ozamiz City. She was given a temporary N.B.I. Clearance pending the N.B.I. investigation. They spelled her name wrong on the temporary clearance (a potential problem later).

8-20-97

The embassy in Manila received Emelda's papers from the NVC.

9-1-97

I wrote the following letter to Senator Feinstein.

9-1-97

Dear Senator Feinstein,

Recently, I received your August 4th letter. At first, I tried to ignore your letter's insensitivity and disregard for me (a constituent). Now, I can no longer hold back my feelings. I have a bone to pick with you. I will address the points you made in your letter.

From your letter:

Thank you for sending me a copy of your recent letter to the Department of State regarding the immigrant petition filed for your wife. I appreciate your keeping me advised.

Well, I never sent you a copy of a letter to the Department of State. Governor Wilson forwarded some things to you on my behalf, but I did not. This shows that you don't seem to care about me enough to pay attention to your correspondence. I'm upset by this. I'm starting to wonder why I voted for you.

Also from your letter:

Because of the huge volume of mail my office receives, we do not take specific action on requests unless someone writes directly to me. Since you copied me on your correspondence, we will keep your information on file in the event you need our help later.

This stuns and offends me because I have already written to you directly on two separate occasions. I sent you an e-mail on May 10th (three full months prior to your recent letter to me). Next, I faxed you a letter on June 18th (I also mailed a copy of the letter to your Los Angeles and San Francisco offices). I will enclose copies of the aforementioned letters so that you can see them for yourself.

From your letter:

If you would like me to act on your behalf, please write directly to my San Francisco office and outline specifically how we could help you. Again, thanks for writing and for keeping me informed.

I have already written to you there and you have ignored me. I can't express with words how much you've disappointed me. My parents' reaction sums up how I feel. They said, "We'll remember how Senator Feinstein has forsaken her constituents when election time comes around." Since you care so little about me and have chosen to ignore my heartfelt pleas for help, I for one plan to campaign for your opponent during the next election. If your constituents can't count on you, you belong out of office.

With disappointment,

(signed)

Jeff L. Hollis

I also phoned the embassy to inquire as to the procedure Emelda needs to undergo to get her FBI fingerprint check done. They informed me that the fingerprint check takes at least four months. They also told me how and when she could apply for the fingerprint check (it can only be done in Manila). Also, they informed me that Emelda couldn’t be scheduled for her final interview until one month after the fingerprint check is completed. In other words, according to them, she would not be allowed into the U.S. until February at the very earliest.

This really blew me away. I thought that we had begun to get close to being reunited. The idea of being separated from Emelda until mid to late February stunned me and put me into a state of depression. One day in the supermarket a few days later, I started to lose my composure and began crying as I leaned against one of the doors to the frozen foods section. Usually, I just cried by myself, but this time, I just couldn’t hold it in. This whole process was really starting to get to me in a big way. Emelda was on my mind constantly. Our first year of marriage was being stolen from us and I felt helpless.

9-11-97

Emelda flew to Manila to get her FBI fingerprint check done. I asked her to go to the NBI office and get them to correct their mistake. I also asked Emelda to find out how to get her passport.

9-16-97

Emelda was fingerprinted for the FBI check.

9-18-97

Emelda returned to Ozamiz where I spoke to her on the phone. She was able to get her final NBI Clearance in one day (due to being in Manila). Her entire trip to Cagayan De Oro had been for naught. I felt guilty for having gotten her to withstand the aforementioned marathon bus trip. My guilt subsided when Emelda told me that she had failed to investigate how to get her passport. After having begged her to look into this for months, her laziness frustrated me. She kept saying that friends had told her not to worry about that until it was time for her final interview. Being a person who likes to nail down the details as quickly as possible, I kept telling her that her friends weren’t always correct (they had given Emelda bad advice before) and that the government might require her to have a passport before the final interview, but Emelda wasn’t worried. Her ‘whatever-is-meant-to-happen-will-happen’ attitude was sometimes delightful. This was not one of those times. I decided not to push the issue and upset her. She was having a hard time dealing with our separation too.

10-25-97

I received the following letter from Senator Boxer’s office:

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

October 22, 1997

Dear Mr. Hollis:

Enclosed please find the correspondence Senator Boxer received from the American Embassy in Manila, in response to her inquiry on your behalf

I hope this information is of assistance to you.

Sincerely,

(signed)

Beatriz Rivas Rogalski
Deputy Chief of Staff

Here is the original correspondence she refers to in the above letter:

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

September 24, 1997

VIA FACSIMILE

United States Consul
Immigrant Visa Section
American Embassy
Manila – Philippines
APO AP 96440

Dear Consul:

I am writing to you on behalf of Jeffrey L. Hollis, regarding the immigrant visa case of his wife, Emelda B. Garcines, WAC 97-147-50129, MNL199711107.

Attached please find notification from the Immigration and Naturalization Service, California Service Center, informing Mr. Hollis that the I-130 immigrant visa petition was approved and forwarded to your post.

Mr. Hollis would like to be reunited with his wife as soon as possible. Your assistance expediting the processing of this case will be most appreciated.

Thank you for your assistance in this matter. Please respond to Senator Boxer’s San Francisco office, Attention: Beatriz Rivas Rogalski.

Sincerely,

(signed)

Beatriz Rivas Rogalski

Apparently, this action was undertaken as a result of a letter that my mother wrote to Senator Boxer’s office a few weeks prior. The following is the response that Senator Boxer’s office received from the embassy and forwarded to me:

|||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

UNCLASSIFIED

INCOMING TELEGRAM

ACTION

Department of State

PAGE 01 Manila 12743 SHB7181 MANILA 12743 0908112 SHB7181
ACTION HCR-01

INFO LOG-00 OASY-00 EAP-00 UTED-00 H-01 IM-00 TEDE-00
ADS-00 DCP-01 VO-03 /008W
--------------------------ED7C10 090811Z /38
R 090811Z OCT 97
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 1884

UNCLAS MANILA 012743

H PASS

E.C. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CVIS, RP (GARCINES, EMELDA BRILLO)
SUBJECT: VISAS – IV CASE: CONGRESSIONAL INTEREST

TO: THE HONORABLE BARBARA BOXER
UNITED STATES SENATE
C/O DISTRICT OFFICE
1700 MONTGOMERY STREET
SUITE 240
SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94111
ATTN: BEATRIZ RIVAS ROGALSKI

DEAR SENATOR BOXER:

THANK YOU FOR YOUR FAX OF SEPTEMBER 25, 1997 CONCERNING THE IMMIGRANT VISA CASE OF MS. EMELDA B. GARCINES, THE WIFE OF YOUR CONSTITUENT, MR. JEFFREY L. HOLLIS OF (address deleted for this Website). FURTHER PROCESSING OF MS. GARCINES’ CASE IS AWAITING OUR RECEIPT OF HER FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION (FBI) CLEARANCE. THE FBI CLEARANCE IS IN ACCORDANCE WITH 1994 LEGISLATION PASSED BY CONGRESS WHICH REQUIRES THAT ALL APPLICANTS AGED 17 TO 79 IN THE TEN COUNTRIES THAT ACCOUNT FOR THE HIGHEST NUMBER OF IMMIGRANT VISAS, INCLUDING THE PHILIPPINES, BE FINGERPRINTED AND THOSE PRINTS COMPARED WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT RECORDS IN THE U.S. MS. GARCINES WAS FINGERPRINTED ON SEPTEMBER 16, 1997. CURRENTLY, IT TAKES APPROXIMATELY SIXTEEN WEEKS TO RECEIVE THE REQUIRED CLEARANCE FROM THE FBI, ALTHOUGH PROCESSING DELAYS MAY RESULT IN A LONGER WAIT. A FINGERPRINT CLEARANCE IS REQUIRED FOR ALL VISA APPLICANTS IN THE DESIGNATED COUNTRIES WHETHER OR NOT THEY HAVE BEEN IN THE UNITED STATES OR HAVE A LOCAL CRIMINAL RECORD. THERE IS NO PROVISION IN THE LAW FOR WAIVING THE FINGERPRINT REQUIREMENT REGARDLESS OF CIRCUMSTANCES.

AS SOON AS MS. GARCINES’ FINGERPRINT CLEARANCE IS RECEIVED, AN APPOINTMENT FOR A FORMAL VISA INTERVIEW CAN NORMALLY BE SCHEDULED IN ABOUT FOUR WEEKS. A PACKET 4 (APPOINMENT LETTER) WITH FURTHER DETAILS REGARDING THE REQUIRED MEDICAL EXAMINATION (WHICH SHOULD BE COMPLETED BEFORE THE INTERVIEW) AND THE APPOINTMENT LETTER ITSELF IS SENT TO THE APPLICANT BY REGULAR MAIL.

WE CERTAINLY UNDERSTAND MR. HOLLIS’ DESIRE TO HAVE THE VISA PROCESSED EXPEDITIOUSLY. AS YOU MAY KNOW, MANILA IS ONE OF THE LARGEST IMMIGRANT VISA PROCESSING POST (sic) IN THE WORLD, HANDLING OVER 60,000 APPLICANTS PER YEAR. UNDERSTANDABLY, THOUSANDS OF PETITIONERS AND APPLICANTS WOULD LIKE THEIR CASES TO BE PROCESSED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE BUT THE SHEER VOLUME OF APPLICANTS MAKES IT IMPOSSIBLE TO ACCOMMODATE SPECIAL REQUESTS. FAIRNESS DICTATES THAT WE SCHEDULE APPLICANTS ON A FIRST-COME, FIRST-SERVED BASIS UNLESS THERE IS A DOCUMENTED EMERGENCY, FOR EXAMPLE, AN URGENT MEDICAL PROBLEM.

WE HOPE THIS INFORMATION WILL HELP YOU IN REPLYING TO YOUR CONSTITUENT. PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE TO CONTACT US IF WE CAN BE OF FURTHER ASSISTANCE TO YOU.

SINCERELY,

MARTHA SARDINAS
ACTING CONSUL GENERAL
AMERICAN EMBASSY
MANILA, PHILIPPINES

HUBBARD

UNCLASSIFIED

I continued to be impressed with Senator Boxer’s helpful staff. In my opinion, they went beyond the call of duty. I never thought a Senator’s Deputy Chief of Staff would be faxing requests on my behalf to an embassy! I have to remember to send them another thank you note! I wasn’t sure if their efforts were speeding this process up, but I will never forget their dedication to helping me in any way they could during a difficult time. However, the next phase of this process would prove to be the most difficult of all...