Visa free travel for Poles wishing to visit the United States – action needed

Senator Charles Schumer says: ‘Drop Visas For Poland’
Polish Americans Can Make It Happen

After years of broken promises from Washington, Poland finally has a chance of being included in the Visa Waiver Program thanks to Sen. Chuck Schumer. Sen. Schumer came to the Kosciuszko Foundation on Friday, March 3rd for a meeting with Alex Storozynski, President of the Kosciuszko Foundation, Nowy Dziennik publisher Leszek Sadowski, Polish Consul Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka and members of other Polish organizations to discuss his new legislation called the “Jolt Act.”

“I am committed to getting this done,” Schumer said during an hour and a half meeting with Polish leaders at the Kosciuszko Foundation. “But you have to work at it,” he said. “This has to come from you.”

When Schumer marched in New York’s Pulaski Day Parade in October, the Kosciuszko Foundation, the Nowy Dziennik and others brought the Visa Waiver issue to his attention and urged him to find a way to drop visas for Poland. Sen. Schumer promised to do something. He kept his word. As Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship, Schumer took several immigration bills sponsored by various Senators and combined them into one bill.

Senators Barbara Mikulski of Maryland and Mark Kirk of Illinois sponsored legislation to include Poland in the VWP. And in the House of Representatives a bipartisan collection Congressmen such as Mike Quigley, Dan Lipinski, Marcy Kaptur, and others have done the same. These bills are now part of the “Jolt Act” to boost tourism. It will add billions of dollars to our economy and create hundreds of thousands of jobs over the next decade. It will also cut red tape for tourists and business travelers from India, Brazil, China, and increase tourism from Canada.

But now Polish-Americans across the United States, especially those in swing states, must unite to ensure that the “Jolt Act” becomes law. We must get President Obama’s attention.

When President Obama was a Senator from Illinois, he told Polish-Americans that he supported Poland’s inclusion in the visa waiver program. Obama’s former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, made the same promise as a Congressman from Chicago. But nothing has been done despite numerous pledges to act. When the President met with Poland’s President Bronislaw Komorowski in the Oval Office on December 8, 2010, Mr. Obama said, “I indicated to President Komorowski that I am going to make this a priority. And I want to solve this issue before very long. My expectation is, is that this problem will be solved during my presidency.”

Earlier this month, after a meeting with Poland’s Foreign Minster Radek Sikorski, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was asked about this issue and said, “I know the President pledged that this would be done before the end of his presidency, and probably that will be a little longer than the end of this year.”

President Obama received 56% percent of the Polish-American vote in 2008, to McCain’s 44%. The swing states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania have very large Polish populations. And don’t forget the 430,000 Polish-Americans in Florida. This is why self-identified Polish Americans and Polonian organizations across the United States must rise up to demand that visas for Poland be dropped – especially those in the swing states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania – the home state of the Polish National Catholic Church.

Take action

To find your Congressman and their e-mail address, log onto the Kosciuszko Foundation web site and type in your zip code. Then send your Senators and Representatives a note expressing your support. You may also sign the Drop Visas for Poland on-line petition.