APPEAL TO POLONIA: Action needed in support of the Visa Waiver legislation

Dear Members and Friends of the Polish American Community:

 April 2011 – After years of continued hard work of the Polish American Congress on the federal and state levels of government in the matter of securing the admission of Poland to the United States Visa Waiver Program (VWP), our effort has attracted key members of the Illinois Congressional delegation in Washington, DC – notably, Senator Mark Kirk (R) and Congressman Mike Quigley (D) – who pledged to spearhead bipartisan legislation to include Poland in the Program.

 As the result, two corresponding bills, sharing the same title of: “Secure Travel and Counterterrorism Partnership Program Act of 2011″, were introduced in both chambers of the U.S. Congress: H.R. 959 sponsored by Rep. Quigley in the U.S. House of Representatives, and S. 497 sponsored by Sen. Mikulski (D-MD) in the Senate. Both bills were then forwarded to the respective committees on the Judiciary.

 The aim of the bill is to update and modernize the VWP requirements by setting the overstay rate (rather than the refusal rate, as it is practiced now) as the main criterion for country’s legibility and membership in the Program.

This development creates a golden opportunity for all members of American Polonia as well as friends of our community to work on, especially with their respective Congressional delegations in ensuring a passage of the bill.

We must not allow our golden opportunity to become a lost opportunity. Only through concerted and energetic political action on the part of all members of our Community can the golden opportunity translate into success.

 To this end, a strong effort is urgently needed to saturate, by phone, letters and the Internet, the Congressional delegations of ALL states. In particular, we ask you to:

 1. Concentrate on those Representatives and Senators from your state who also serve on the Committee of the  Judiciary (lists provided below) and urge them to support the bill and ensure that legislation’s successful referral “out of Committee” for a vote on the floor of both houses.

2. If your Representative and/or Senators are not in the Committee to which the bill was referred, please urge them strongly to support the bill by becoming its co-sponsor (if they are not already), AND

 3. Urge your Representatives and Senators to vote for the passage of the bill when it comes for a vote.

 4. In addition, please make sure to express your gratitude to those Legislators who already took action. They would like to hear from you and will appreciate your support.

 BILL IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

 H.R.959 : Secure Travel and Counterterrorism Partnership Program Act of 2011

Sponsor: Rep. Quigley, Mike [D-IL] (introduced 3/8/2011)

Cosponsors (As of April 13, 2011)

   Representative Berkley, Shelley [NV-1]

   Representative Higgins, Brian [NY-27]

   Representative Hunter, Duncan D. [CA-52]

   Representative Kaptur, Marcy [OH-9]

   Representative Lipinski, Daniel [IL-3]

   Representative Pascrell, Bill, Jr. [NJ-8]

   Representative Polis, Jared [CO-2]

   Representative Schakowsky, Janice D. [IL-9]

   Representative Shimkus, John [IL-19]

Latest Action: 3/21/2011 Referred to the House Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement.

 Members of the Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement (U.S. House of Representatives):

   Rep. Elton Gallegly (R) California, 24t, Chairman    Phone: (202) 225-5811

   Rep. Steve King (R) Iowa, 5th, Vice-Chairman    Phone: (202) 225-4426

   Rep. Dan Lungren (R) California, 3rd    Phone: (202) 225-5716

   Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D) California, 16th    Phone: (202) 225-3072

   Rep. Maxine Waters (D) California, 35th    Phone: (202) 225-2201

   Rep. Dennis Ross (R) Florida, 12th    Phone: (202) 225-1252

   Rep. Trey Gowdy (R) South Carolina, 4th    Phone: (202) 225-6030

   Rep. Louie Gohmert (R) Texas, 1st    Phone: (202) 225-3035 

   Rep. Ted Poe (R) Texas, 2nd    Phone: (202) 225-6565

   Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D) Texas, 18th    Phone: (202) 225-3816

   Rep. Pedro Pierluisi (D) Puerto Rico, Resident Commissioner    Phone: (202) 225-2615

 BILL IN THE U.S. SENATE:

S.497: Secure Travel and Counterterrorism Partnership Program Act of 2011

Sponsor: Sen Mikulski, Barbara A. [D-MD] (introduced 3/7/2011)

Cosponsors (As of April 13, 2011)

   Sen. Kirk, Mark Steven [IL]

Latest Action: 3/7/2011 Referred to Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

 Members of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary:

   Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Chairman, D-Vermont Phone: (202) 224-4242

   Sen. Jon Kyl R-Arizona Phone: (202) 224-4521

   Sen. Jeff Sessions R-Alabama    Phone: (202) 224-4124

   Sen. Dianne Feinstein D-California    Phone: (202) 224-3841

   Sen. Richard Blumenthal D-Connecticut    Phone: (202) 224-2823

   Sen. Christopher A. Coons D-Delaware    Phone: (202) 224-5042

   Sen. Dick Durbin D-Illinois    Phone: (202) 224-2152

   Sen. Chuck Grassley Ranking Member, R-Iowa    Phone: (202) 224-3744

   Sen. Amy Klobuchar D-Minnesota    Phone: (202) 224-3244

   Sen. Al Franken D-Minnesota    Phone: (202) 224-5641

   Sen. Chuck Schumer D-New York    Phone: (202) 224-6542

   Sen. Tom Coburn R-Oklahoma    Phone: (202) 224-5754

   Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse D-Rhode Island    Phone: (202) 224-2921

   Sen. Lindsey Graham R-South Carolina    Phone: (202) 224-5972

   Sen. John Cornyn R-Texas    Phone: (202) 224-2934

   Sen. Michael S. Lee R-Utah    Phone: (202) 224-5444

   Sen. Orrin G. Hatch R-Utah    Phone: (202) 224-5251

   Sen. Herb Kohl D-Wisconsin    Phone: (202) 224-5653

 It is absolutely crucial that you contact both your Representative AND your Senators to express your support for the bills.

 Finally, please make sure to encourage your family and friends as well as friends of Polonia to do the same and also contact their representatives in Washington in support of Poland’s membership in the Visa Waiver Program.

 Together we can finally make it happen but we need to generate the greatest response from voters as possible.

 WHERE TO FIND MORE INFORMATION:

About the bill: http://thomas.loc.gov/ and enter bill number: H.R.959 or S.497

About your Representatives: www.house.gov or by calling (202) 224-3121

About your Senators: www.senate.gov or by calling (202) 224-3121

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