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